Sunday, 6 May 2007

Ettie Rout: Guardian Angel of the Anzacs

The conversation started with Kevin Kelly on the road to Karekare in 1996. He was asking me a torrent of questions about New Zealand and I said "For some reason a disproportionate number of New Zealanders seems to have changed the world in some way or other." The Eureka Moment reply was that change happens on the edge of the species. Part of the edge storytelling process has been to research and publish definitive short biographies of these world-changers. There are about 35 on the site (out of an initial list of 100), from the automatic Rutherford, Hillary, Pearse, Mansfield, Sheppard, Lovelock and MacDiarmid, to people largely unsighted such as Joseph Sinel, Colin Murdoch, Nancy Wake and Alexander Aitken. Their stories are "heroic" simply because they are. Inspirational New Zealanders. Paul Ward and I have written most of the stories. I have wanted to include Ettie Rout's story because she is a role model who did it tough. BS.

Activist in the prevention of the scourge of WWI – venereal disease – Christchurch’s Ettie Rout was infamous for breaching social mores in sexual health and practice. An original career woman, socialist, nurse, equal rights campaigner, condom distributor, wartime Paris safe-sex brothel operator, banned author of “Safe Marriage”, a “wicked” and “scandalous woman” of the sisterhood. Ettie Rout was a focused, relentless and empathetic humanitarian who faced danger, opposition, ostracism and eventually self-exile. 1700 words. Illustrated. Story by Paul Ward and Ingrid Horrocks with thanks to biographer Jane Tolerton.

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