Thursday, June 08, 2006

Human Rights: Should Women Have Them Too?

The government has shelved plans to criminalise forced marriage. They claim that legislation might actually have made life more difficult for women in that situation who may have resisted reporting for fear of their parents being jailed. They also claim that existing legislation on kidnap should be sufficient to prosecute anyone they wish to.

Seems like we have lost our way a bit. If the existing legislation is strong enough, why are there so few prosecutions and still hundreds of (predominantly) women suffering in this way?

What is needed it seems to me is a decent-scale campaign to let women from "at risk" groups know that they have rights which we in this country consider sacred. They also need to know what to do if they feel they're becoming a victim, that support is available (and it needs to be available) and how to access it. Radical huh?


Kaite said...

I can't help feeling that they don't want to exacerbate racial/religious tensions, which I understand to some degree...but this is a situation they've created themselves through mismanagement, and I don't think vulnerable women should suffer for it.

Cruella said...

The trouble is they need to make it very clear what the limit on religious tolerance is. We support freedom of religion however not when it infringes other people's human rights: so i.e. no forced marriages, no "holy" terrorism, no female genital mutilation, no sharia-style chopping off hands and feet, no stoning and no punishing people who chose to leave the religion and follow another faith or none.

We're seem to be so worried about offending people's religious beliefs that we've forgotten about basic human rights.

Personally I'd favour a whole new approach... I'd re-define religion as a belief system which includes the requirement to give everything of value you own to the poor and live frugally. This would include most major faiths - it's in the Koran and the Bible for instance. Then I'd offer protection from religious persecution only to those who were clearly living by this tennet. Might sort out the truly devout from the power-hungry oppressors.