Human Rights Month
December is International Human Rights Month. To celebrate, SBAI is featuring individuals who were a part of five important moments in the expansion of human rights for all.
Human rights are rights inherent to all human beings, whatever our nationality, place of residence, sex, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, language, or any other status. We are all equally entitled to our human rights without discrimination. These rights are all interrelated, interdependent and indivisible.
Universal human rights are often expressed and guaranteed by law, in the forms of treaties, customary international law , general principles and other sources of international law. International human rights law lays down obligations of Governments to act in certain ways or to refrain from certain acts, in order to promote and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms of individuals or groups.
Pushpa Basnet, one of CNN's 2012 Heroes Winners, founded the Early Childhood Development Center (ECDC) in Kathmandu Napal in 2005. The center works with jail administrators to keep the children of incarcerated individuals out of jail cells. In Nepal, incarcerated parents (particularly mothers) must bring their children to jail with them if there are no individuals available to act as a gaurdian. Children growing up in jail cells lack access to education, nutrition, and medical care. Basnet's center gives children of incarcerated individuals a safe home, regular medical check-ups, and enrollment in a local school. Children have regular visitations with their parents, including on holidays.
Patricia Nobbie is the deputy director of the Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities. Her council, along with the United States Justice Department, pushed several states, including Georgia, to move developmentally disabiled patients into group homes or other forms of assisted living. The Justice Department has in recent years threatened legal action against states like Georgia who are accused of violating the civil rights of developmentally disabled individuals by placing them in hospitals and nursing homes rather than integrating them into society.
It was a good year for the LGBTQ community and its supporters during the US elections. Tammy Baldwin became the first openly gay United States Senator. There was also the re-election of pro-LGBTQ leaders President Barack Obama and his Vice President Joe Biden (who called transgender discrimination the “civil rights issue of our era”), but more importantly, there were big wins in terms of marriage equality. Maine, Minnesota, and Washington all voted to support marriage equality, and Maryland struck down an amendment that would have defined marriage as one-man-one-woman. Additionally, Stacie Laughton became New Hampshire’s first transgender lawmaker.
Bibiana Ferraiuoli Suarez
In October of this year, in Puerto Rico, Betsian Carrasquillo-Peñaloza was indicted for having recruited, enticed, and transported a 14-year-old to engage in commercial sex acts knowing that the individual was a minor. It may be just one case, but it serves as a beacon of hope that many more cases may be presented and end in a similar fashion. And in an issue like sex trafficking, where perpetrators rarely face consequences from the legal system, it’s certainly cause to celebrate
Pictured is Bibiana Ferraiuoli Suarez, Executive Director of the Ricky Martin Foundation. The Ricky Martin Foundation advocates for the well being of children around the world in critical areas such as education, health, and social justice. Its principal program, People for Children, condems child exploitation and human trafficking. Ferraiuoli reported the indictment on Huffington Post last month.
Jack Drescher is a member of the American Psychiatric Association subcommittee working on revisions to its widlely used Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders (DSM). One revision will include a change in language from "Gender Identity Disorder" to "Gender Dysphoria." The language change came as a result of years of lobbying by advocates who felt that term "Gender Identity Disorder" as a classification for mental illness implied that all transgender individuals are mentally ill. The new language diagnoses individuals with Gender Dysphoria as displaying "a marked incongruence between one's experienced/expressed gender and assigned gender." While some advocates feel that this is not an adequate change, many agree that it is a great step forward in the conversation about civil rights and transgender individuals. Some see it as mirriong the removal of "homosexuality" from the DSM in 1973.