The Right to an Abortion…?

I read an article on the Guardian today about an 11 year old girl in Senegal who was raped and subsequently unwillingly had twins as a result of the fact that there is a ban on abortion in Senegal. In Senegal, the only ground upon which an abortion may be given the go ahead, is if it is to save the life of the pregnant woman – or in this case, a child. This law falls under the Criminal Code of Senegal and it means that anyone performing an abortion on a pregnant ‘woman’ whether she consents or not is subject to imprisonment for one to five years and also is landed with an enormous fine.

Reading the story of this little girl made me feel really quite sad, and although as a Christian I do not condone abortions, I am also not a supporter of the idea of not giving individuals the option and having control over their own lives. The girl talks about the different ways that having the twins will impact her life and it seems as though the negatives far surpass any positive factors. Whether or not there should be a right to have an abortion has been a contentious issue for many years and in my opinion a very well argued one too, from both corners.

I am of the opinion that every circumstance is different. Becoming pregnant as a result of a rape of an 11 year old girl is very different to becoming pregnant as a result of a drunken mistake between two fully grown adults. In the same way a wealthy woman with no kids becoming pregnant is very different to a working class single parent with six children becoming pregnant. I feel as though in situations like this, we need to promote the idea of looking at individual situations with a fresh perspective. This girl has now given birth to a set of twins to whom she is their sole responsibility. How will she continue her education effectively? How will she get over the constant reminder of what happened to her? It is such a sensitive topic.

What do you think? Should she have been given the option?

http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2014/may/19/senegal-rape-11-year-old-girl-denied-abortion-gives-birth-twins 

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The criminalisation of HIV Transmission in Uganda – good or bad?

The HIV Prevention and Control Act was passed by the Ugandan government yesterday and many have questioned and challenged the legality of an act which has been considered to be discriminatory as well as a violation of the human rights of those who fall within the scope of the act. The act places mandatory testing on pregnant women and their partners and also gives medical providers the permission to disclose the HIV status of individuals to others. For me, however the most controversial element of the act is the way in which it criminalises the transmission of HIV, attempted HIV transmission and any behaviour that might result in transmission by those who are aware of their HIV status. For a very long time the spread of HIV has been a contentious issue in many parts of Africa, and it feels almost as though the enactment of this legislation only operates to take us a step backward in the fight against the stigmatisation and prejudice that HIV carriers face today.

The act seems to attempt at some form of compromise by asserting that the transmission of the disease must be ‘wilful’ or ‘intentional’ – but how do you prove this? It is difficult and indeed problematic and can potentially cause quite serious tensions in Uganda – an unnecessary addition to the tensions that already exist surrounding HIV.  However, what is most important is the fact that the act does nothing to challenge the ever increasing rates of HIV infection in Uganda. What do we do about those who spread the disease unintentionally? Currently 7.2 per cent of the population in Uganda live with HIV which totals to around 1.4 million people – including 190,000 children. Something more substantial than a discriminatory and inattentive piece of legislation needs to be done.  The executive director of Uganda Network on law, ethics and HIV/AIDS summarised the issue in a great way by saying that: ‘for Uganda to address its HIV epidemic effectively, it needs to partner with  people living with HIV, not blame them, criminalise them, and exclude them from policy making’.

What do you think?

‘Your Fatwa Doesn’t Belong Here’

All too often we hear in the media, stories about the horrible things that Muslim extremists have done. We hardly ever hear about the accounts of heroism by the many others who are committed to the fight against terrorism. This does not refer to Western Governments but to Muslim’s themselves who put themselves at a huge amount of risk by protesting against religious extremism – in particular Muslim women.

I was given the opportunity to attend a talk held by Karima Bennoune – a professor of international law and member of the board of the network of Women Living Under Muslim Laws. Bennoune shared some of the untold stories of some of these heroes/heroines and made some very insightful comments about what is going on in the world today and how we could potentially alleviate the problems caused by Muslim extremism. Bennoune argues that the human rights struggles against fundamentalism are amongst the most important and most overlooked human rights struggles in the world today.

As much as we disagree with the values of Muslim extremists, we can not just sit back in disgust and observe what is going on without looking at the impact that their actions have on the human rights of many Muslim women. Bennoune tells many different stories. Stories of women beaten and humiliated, killed and disgraced. For example, she tells the story of a young Pakistani Muslim woman who was killed on the street by Muslim extremists because she was a student and they were against the idea of women being educated. Stories like this show us how important it is for us to recognise that huge human rights violations are taking place and they get us to think about what we can do to change this.

It is important that fundamentalism is fought against directly as it essentially lays the bed of terrorism. Society needs to be relieved of whatever it is that is leading people to Muslim extremism and violence. In addition Muslim women need to come together and demand change – at the moment there isn’t enough solidarity amongst Muslim women. Some are just too afraid. Bennoune speaks of Muslim women as being the most effective group to alleviate the problem.

It is also important that the international community become more involved. There should be international support to mobilise the people who are actually trying to eradicate these injustices. However, international support alone is not enough, serious debate needs to happen amongst the people that are actually of Muslim heritage themselves – they have a responsibility to educate their younger generations.

A really important comment that was made at the talk is that we need to talk about human rights and peace at the same time.

The Death Sentence

Whats happening?

A shocking story to reach the headlines tells of a student who was raped and murdered on a bus in the Capital of India, Delhi last year. The victim was beaten and gang raped on the bus and subsequently died as a result of her injuries 13 days later. The story led to a spurge of violent protests across India by those who demanded for new laws against rape. It raised once again, the issue of the treatment of women in Indian society especially in regards to sexual abuse and reminded the world of the fact that even today, women still feel unsafe in Indian society.

 India’s legal system allows for execution in the ‘rarest of the rare cases’ however what actually constitutes these cases is still debated. Nevertheless, four of the men involved were sentenced to death.

 

In my opinion…

The death penalty is still a matter of controversy and ones opinion on this issue can be closely affiliated with political ideology and religious beliefs.

 In my opinion the case obviously raises very serious issues by women’s groups, all of which I totally support. However, the outcome of this case leads us back once again to the issue of sentencing to death which I also feel very strongly about. I am of the opinion that the death penalty is the ultimate denial of human rights. I don’t believe that anyone has the right to take the life of another – irrespective of what that person has done. I can imagine how comforting it would seem for the family of the victim to know that the people who caused the death of their daughter will suffer the same fate, but ultimately it doesn’t change a thing, it doesn’t bring her back.

 I feel as though the decision to sentence these men to death was heavily influenced by the extent of the public outrage on the facts of the case. Use of the death penalty is almost like a way of calming public anger and portraying the state as being totally against the crime. However sentencing these men to death doesn’t change the fact that a woman is raped in India every 22 minutes.

More can be done to protect women, sentencing these men to death may have calmed the anger felt by those who protested but it doesn’t mean that it will not happen again – we can not be using the death penalty as a quick fix solution.

 In total understanding of how horrific and infuriating this case is, I feel that the most important thing to take away from this case is the fact that the sentence to death of these men will not end the rates of violence and sexual abuse against women in India.

 Has justice really been served and should we still be using the death sentence?

 What do you guys think?

(Please note: this is just my opinion)

 

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Introduction

The purpose of this blog is to raise awareness about Human Rights issues around the world as well as to simply invoke discussion! Most of what I do write will be an expression of my opinion, and everyone is also entitled to express their own by way of a comment.

I wish to write about some of the leading Human Rights cases and judgements – both current and in the past as well as about some of the general Human Rights issues we read or hear about in the news.

Please do not hesitate to express how you feel about some of the issues. It is your entitlement.

Please note that I am not a professional in this field, although I one day hope to be. At this point, I am simply trying to do my part as one who appreciates the value of Human Rights Law.