domingo, 5 de abril de 2015

Thoughts of a 17 year old girl on Human Rights

Human Rights is something I think about rather frequently and do some research on, so why not put some of my thoughts out for the world to read. I'll start by talking about the role played by Human Rights defenders, as I consider myself one, and then elaborate on two quotes related to the theme, that I found worth sharing and commenting.

"Two brothers of the El Agha family mourn their father, killed during the shelling of the town of Khan Yunis, in southern Gaza. The offensive lasted seven weeks, during which more than 2,100 people were killed in Gaza, 69 percent of which, according to the UN, were civilians. Amnesty International published a report that (…) suggested violations of international law on both sides." Source: Word Press Photo

What is the role Human Rights defenders play in today’s society?

Human Rights defenders play a crucial role in today’s society, they fight for the oppressed, for those that can’t fight for themselves. I find it outstanding how some people dedicate their lives to the greater good, most times, for the greater good of complete strangers and sacrifice the ones closer to them and themselves everyday.
If it wasn’t for these brave people, women would still not be able to vote, America would still be segregated and Portugal could actually be still ruled by a dictator.
I hope that in a near future, the Eastern world and all the countries that are not being ruled in accordance to the Human Rights chart, adopt new policies, and that is only going to be achieved if everybody fights for it.
Finally, I think that everyone of us should be involved in the struggle for Human Rights, not defending every article (I believe we don’t have to defend every article because we don’t have to agree with all of them, that’s also freedom of thought and speech) and not necessarily sacrificing themselves for it, but at least doing something. As meaningless as it may seem, if we all cooperate, great things shall be achieved.

“Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.” Martin Luther King

Currently, after decades of fighting for Human Rights, some are still not respected in all countries. I agree with Martin Luther King’s sentence, everybody must battle for what they believe in and, like everything in life, if people don’t fight for it, they’re never going to get it.
I believe it’s pretty clear that Human Rights are never going to be fully followed in the whole world, but we can and should try to accomplish that. In my opinion, the first and most important thing to fight for these rights is information. If people don’t know there’s something to fight for, they obviously won’t do it. So the first step is education for all, freedom of thought and speech and access to information, this is the basis for a fair and equal world.
To make it actually happen, there should be as many people as possible involved, so every single one of us has to play a role in the struggle for Human Rights. One doesn’t necessarily has to dedicate their life to it, simple gestures matter, and with internet access that has been made the easiest thing ever.
In summary, I believe that if everybody is granted access to education/information and if we unite in order to accomplish what we believe in, it will soon become a reality and the worlds will become a better place.

"Life for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people is becoming increasingly difficult in Russia. Sexual minorities face legal and social discrimination, harassment, and even violent hate-crime attacks from conservative religious and nationalistic groups." Source: Word Press Photo

“…there have been dramatic advances in crafting and implementing a system of universal human rights…” Navi Pillay, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

Looking at the world with the eyes of a 17 year old girl from Portugal, I would say it didn’t change much. In the Middle East, for example, women are still highly oppressed, forced to get married at a very young age, not allowed to do such simple things as watching a volleyball game or dress as they want; in countries such as China, India and Bangladesh child labor and slavery are very common and human trafficking, torture, etc. are yet happening thoughout the world ( and these are just a very little few examples).

But, if one compares what happens nowadays to what happened, for instance, a century ago, one realizes we’ve come a long way. In the Western civilization, dictatorship is almost extinct, pretty much everyone is getting good education and health care, discrimination still exists, but not as much as there used to be. Of course there’s still plenty to be done, but in general, I do agree with the sentence.

"Waria is (…) often used to describe transgender women. Waria in Indonesia generally live in isolated communities and suffer a degree of marginalization and discrimination." Source: Word Press Photo

Inês Tavares

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