Since the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted in 1948, human rights have become codified in international, regional and national legal systems. Under international human rights law, States have the obligation to respect, protect and fulfil human rights. The obligation to protect requires them to safeguard individuals and groups against human rights abuses by others. The obligation to fulfil means that States must take positive action to facilitate the enjoyment of basic human rights through the creation of relevant procedures and institutions, the adoption of laws and policies, and by ensuring enforcement and adequate funding.
Human rights are universal. They apply equally to men and women, girls and boys. Women, for example, are entitled to the same rights to life, education and political participation as men. However, in practice, these rights are violated every day in multiple ways – in virtually every country in the world.
Gender equality and women’s rights are key elements in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Yet it was later recognized that certain rights are specific to women, or need to be emphasized in the case of women. These rights are outlined in subsequent international and regional instruments, the most important of which is the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.
According to UNFPA (United Nations Population Fund) – In spite of these international agreements, the denial of women’s basic human rights is persistent and widespread. For instance:
- Over half a million women continue to die each year from pregnancy and childbirth-related causes.
- Rates of HIV infection among women are rapidly increasing. Among those 15-24 years of age, young women now constitute the majority of those newly infected, in part because of their economic and social vulnerability.
- Gender-based violence kills and disables as many women between the ages of 15 and 44 as cancer. More often than not, perpetrators go unpunished.
- Worldwide, women are twice as likely as men to be illiterate.
- As a consequence of their working conditions and characteristics, a disproportionate number of women are impoverished in both developing and developed countries. Despite some progress in women’s wages in the 1990s, women still earn less than men, even for similar kinds of work.
The lives of women and children are tightly knit, as are their rights. Women and children have both been subjected to discrimination, so they share that experience. But it is also true that women’s health and social and economic status – even before a child is born – is directly related to a child’s prospects for survival and development. Historically, women have been the primary caregivers of children, and resources put in their hands are more likely to be used to benefit children than those given to men. Discrimination against women is thus detrimental not only to women themselves, but also to the next generation.
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child spells out the basic human rights of children worldwide: the right to survive; to develop to the fullest; to protection from harmful practices, abuse and exploitation; and to participate fully in family, cultural and social life. The four core principles of the Convention are non-discrimination; the best interests of the child; the right to life, survival and development; and respect for the views of the child. Every right spelled out in the Convention is inherent to the human dignity and harmonious development of every child.
Despite the safeguards provided in the Convention on the Rights of the Child, blatant violations against children continue:
- An estimated 9.2 million children under the age of five die each year from mostly preventable causes.
- Over 450,000 children in the developing world needed life-saving antiretroviral therapy for AIDS in 2008, but did not receive it.
- One in four children under the age of five in the developing world are underweight, stunting their motor and cognitive development.
- Over 101 million children of primary school age are out of school; more than half of them are girls.
- One in six children in developing countries are engaged in child labour.
- Eighty-six per cent of children are disciplined in ways that are intended to cause physical pain or emotional distress, according to data from 37 countries.
- About 51 million children born in 2007 were unregistered at birth, depriving them of a name, nationality and other fundamental right.
Violation of Rights of Women & Children:
Every day and every hour – somewhere in the world – a woman or a child is being subjected to violence or abuse physically, psychologically, sexually or economically. The abuse occurs in homes, in schools and institutions, at workplaces or on the streets. Violence against women and more specifically girl children continues to be a global epidemic and one of the most pervasive of human rights violations, denying women and girls’ equality, security, dignity, self-worth and their right to enjoy fundamental freedoms. No society can claim to be free of such violence.
Protecting women’s rights is important in itself. But it also tends to reap benefits for their children. Conversely, protecting the rights of children – particularly girls – is the first step in promoting gender equality for women. The stereotyping of gender roles and gender-based discrimination begins in childhood. Efforts to support gender equality must start there and address the roles of girls and boys, men and women, in the household.
Advocating for women’s rights has been essential to advancing the situation of women worldwide. The same holds true for the promotion of children’s rights and improvements in their ability to survive and thrive.
It is important to ensure that the human rights of vulnerable groups that may be subject to marginalization, such as women, children, minorities, refugees, and displaced persons, are addressed in the context of crime prevention and criminal justice reform.
Justice to Victims:
A fair, effective and efficient criminal justice system is a system that respects the fundamental rights of victims, suspects, and offenders. It focuses on the need to prevent victimization, to protect and assist victims, to treat them with compassion, and to respect their dignity. Victims should also have access to judicial and other mechanisms, to seek prompt redress for harm they have suffered. Additionally, victims should have access to specialized assistance in dealing with any emotional trauma and other problems caused as a result of victimization.
Crime takes an enormous physical, financial, and emotional toll on victims. However, in many criminal justice systems, victims of crime are often forgotten and sometimes even re-victimized by the system itself. They are rarely allowed to fully participate in decisions that concern them and do not always receive the assistance, support, and protection they need. Redress for the harm they have suffered as a result of victimization is often not available and, when it is, it is too often insufficient or comes too late.
Bringing together all the Legal Activists is essential so that no victim fails in accessing Justice. International network is a must because of continuous migration of women & children from one part to another in the world and also increase Oversees Justice denial cases in Labour and Marriage. To protect the Rights of Women & Children and see that they get speedy justice whenever there is a violation of their Rights, NILA (Network of International Legal Activists) is born.
NILA tries to see that Victims are not further victimized in the ‘present’ legal systems and get rehabilitated by developing the capacity of existing institutions and agencies to offer victim assistance services.