World Human Rights Day: 8 human rights India needs to wake up to
- MARITAL RAPE:
Marital rape is a real problem in India. Women’s bodies are exploited beyond their choice, and they have nowhere to go or nobody who’d give them a fair hearing without asking them to adjust to the given situation. Criminalising the act of marital rape is a human right that women deserve
2. FREE SELF-EXPRESSION:
In the words of Karuna Nundy, prominent lawyer at the supreme court and human rights advocate, who also thinks that sedition law should done away with completely, “No amount of self-expression should amount to sedition”. While this law is applicable only when a speech incites violence, our governance systems are such that public gatherings of protest are also included in the ambit of the act. This needs to change.
3.RIGHT TO AUTONOMY OF SEXUALITY:
Every individual should have the right to choose their own sexuality, hetero or homo normative. Sexuality- before, after or even during marriage should be about individual choice and these choices, must be self-informed, not society driven. “Decriminalising section 377 could be our starting point”, in the words of historian and queer rights activist Dr. Zareer Masani.
4. ACCESS AND FREE CHOICE IN EDUCATION:
A disproportionate majority of people in our country still do not have access to quality education, despite the RTE Act norm of 25 percent reservation in private schools. We all know what the situation of public schools in our country is today. Many people, who have access to only public institutes, do not have much opportunity. As a result, they end up quitting, as there is nothing substantial that they are able to learn that could help them in real life situations. Education needs to be more needs based, and free from bias.
5. MORAL POLICING
We have a habit of taking moral high-ground and blowing a petty issue out of proportion. While our opinion of someone else’s choice is free expression, we need to draw and explicitly define the dividing line between one’s freedoms to speak and another’s freedom to take offence. While this is the most abstract objective I see for the protection of my human rights, I feel it’s important that someone comes up with a more tangible solution.
6. RESPECT RACIAL DIVERSITY:
India is a diverse land, where the Jews were the first to migrate in the first century BC. Today we are broadly comprised of three races- the Mongoloids, the Aryans and the Dravidians. We have the most diverse physiology to offer. It’s time we acknowledge that, and refrain from ‘othering’ on the same grounds.
7. INCLUSION OF NON-HUMANS IN DEVELOPMENT AS WELL:
The earth belongs to all species, as much as it belongs to us humans. While we have built our concrete jungles and claimed most of its space, we need to work towards building an ecology that ensures the healthy survival of all species. Too many species have died out and yet too many endangered, in our pursuit of ‘development’.
8. RESPECTING PEOPLE BEYOND AGE :
Recently in Australia, an 11 year old girl’s testimony was valued in a rape case, and the accused was convicted. This has never happened in our country. Also the fact that not all old people lack physical vigor, and not all young people make juvenile, uninformed decisions. We need to stop looking at people through the age lens, it’s a right everyone deserves.