International Human Rights Day

International Human Rights Day is commemorated on December 10th, each year.  Both, individuals as well as various groups of individuals observe December 10th as an important day. The year 2018 will mark the 70th year of observance of Human Rights Day. A “right”, according to the Oxford dictionary means, legal or moral entitlement. There exist not only a large number of human rights but those for animals as well.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was first presented in France; in 1948. The first draft of the Universal Declaration was prepared by a Canadian, Mr. John Peters Humphrey. It was further worked upon by Mr. Renee Cassin of France. Some trivia: it is the basis of the formation of the International Bill of Human Rights. It has the reputation for “the most translated document”, as cited by the Guinness Book of World Records. The Universal Declaration comprises a preamble and 30 articles. Especially since 1948, various formal committees the world over and the United Nations Organisation are working in collaboration to help make this Earth a better place for man & beast alike, to live in.

Empathy Over Sympathy

The need of the hour in poverty-stricken countries is very basic amenities like potable water, sanitation, housing, and education. Each and every child needs to have access to education. This will eradicate the vicious cycle of poverty, bonded labor, illness, premature death, and so on. Without education, a majority of Earth-dwellers will be at a disadvantage and people will suffer, sorely in every way. The human race needs to be sensitive and co-operate with each other in the betterment of living conditions on this planet. In short, instead of sympathetic, we need to be “empathetic” and also be “proactive” in order to make things move.

Very sadly, there is a dearth of awareness about and also, sheer callousness towards marginalized groups. A few of these disenfranchised groups are specified here. It is with utmost urgency that the world should highlight them on International Human Rights Day:


Women Power! The first three women fighter pilots of the Indian Air Force. (AP Photo/Mahesh Kumar A.)


A special note needs to be made regarding the current plight of single women: unmarried, widowed, divorced, or, single parents.

Even to this day, (in most nations & cultures) a patriarchal society prevails, and women (even the educated & employed) are expected (overtly or covertly) to be subservient to men. Most educated societies agree that the key to a better, efficient and humane world is the empowerment of women. The irony, however, is that it is women who bear the brunt of atrocities of all kinds. The fact that women are more resilient and capable (in every way) than men, is beside the point.

What needs to be acted upon, urgently, are the human rights bestowed upon women as stated by the International Bill of Human Rights and the Law of each nation. Nevertheless, it is comforting to know about and learn from a small minority of women who are indeed proving to the world that they are shining examples to women, children, the youth and men. They have grit and courage to follow their passion and achieve their dreams despite all odds.


The Physically Challenged

It is astounding to witness the unfaltering determination of some individuals who are challenged physically, in one way or another. (For e.g. visually impaired, hearing impaired, loss of limbs, congenital defects). These individuals are living examples that “success” begins, in the “mind”. The sky is the limit for whatever one wants to achieve in life. However, the larger majority are unable to view life in this manner and we must empathize with them. The untold stories of ill-treatment and abuse at their place of residence (with family or in a home for the disabled), shall remain, unfortunately, untold.

The family members/caretakers need to be sensitized and provided with psycho-education about the physical and mental condition of their ward. They need to be educated and informed about the human rights that their ward is entitled to. The physically challenged need to be empowered with knowledge of activities that can help them to earn their living. Or to keep themselves occupied in order to ward off conditions like depression and the feeling of hopelessness and helplessness.



Mentally Challenged people at Balavihar

The Mentally Challenged

Depression and suicide take the lives of at least a million people, all over the world, each year. The WHO (World Health Organisation) can be referred to for approximate statistics. More men than women succeed in taking their own lives because they use more sure-shot methods than women. For example, the use of a gun or other weapon. Individuals with Bipolar mood disorder too are at risk of committing suicide when they are in a vulnerable situation. Any human being with a mental illness (refer to The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders -5) has an equal right as any able-minded person to have access to the Human Rights formulated by the International Bill of Human Rights and the Law of the Land.

Fortunately, some societies and cultures (in developed nations) are more aware, sensitive and educated about how to treat mentally ill family members, relatives, friends and the citizens of their country, in general. Largely, however, mentally ill people are misunderstood and are treated with disdain. This needs to change, all over the world. Even mentally sturdy people are not immune to falling prey to depression or any other mental illness at any point in time in their life.



Elderly Care

The Elderly

Living in Japan as an elderly Japanese citizen is a boon. Japanese people are known for their reverence for their elders. It is actually a privilege to live in Japan with an “elderly citizen” status. There is much to learn from this race, including how to respect and treat senior people, especially. In countries where the population of senior citizens is more than that of children, the youth and the middle-aged, it is a sign of alarm.

Government policies need to be formulated in order to facilitate care of the elderly and encouragement of young couples to procreate. Homes for the elderly need to be equipped with both medical and recreational facilities. Many elderly people who retire from their jobs, still feel that they can be productive and useful to themselves as well as society, in general. Elderly citizens have a lifetime of the wealth of knowledge and experience to offer and we must not rob them of each and every chance for them to lead a fulfilled and enriched life.


A Rhino poached for its horn

A Rhino poached for its horn


Poaching (illegal hunting) of exotic, rare and endangered species of birds and animals must come to a grinding halt. A few of the animals that are killed by poachers are elephants (for their tusks and hide), rhinos (for their horns), and certain species of snakes (for their skin). Also targeted are cheetahs, tigers, lions, panthers, leopards, and more. There are organizations as well as individuals that are committed to protecting the voiceless species. They do this even knowing fully that their own life can be at stake. The local authorities in each country should work in tandem with international teams and work towards preserving wildlife. It could then be proudly said that we protect the right to life of these beautiful creatures.


Environmental Pollution

The Environment

Production of plastics, toxic gases generated via vehicles, air-conditioning, deodorants, and pesticides, waste from industries etc., are very harmful. These are now making the people of this planet wake up before it is too late. Every human being has an equal right as any other, access to clean air, water, and waste-free land. Certain continents and countries have had a sharp increase in population. This has contributed to the deterioration of the quality of natural resources and facilities. There need to be stringent laws, rules and regulations in each nation in order to curb (and probably, reverse) the damage that mankind is doing to the Earth, today.

About Kavita Sharma

A Counseling Psychologist by qualification, Kavita Sharma enjoys absorbing and expressing creativity in various forms: art, music, reading & writing. She has studied French, Spanish & German, is a good listener, and a keen observer. She is friendlier to pet-lovers!

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