Thursday, May 26, 2016

Reflection: Foundation for Human Rights Watch

It was particularly striking to me that Dr. Livingstone brought up the problems facing human rights in poor communities. When those in the middle/upper class think of human rights, we think of clean water, corruption in politics, and eliminating poverty. However, for the poor, their focus is on taking care of their families and communities on a daily basis. Those of higher socioeconomic classes have money to hide behind when they attempt to combat rights violations; they have clean water, can bribe police, and, by definition, are not in poverty. Those of lower classes do not have this advantage. The upper classes like to "help the poor" by deciding what's best for them, by not giving them a voice. Much like how Frances noticed people with disabilities are treated like children, the poor are likewise treated as such. In a country where many families live below the international poverty level, this is a major oversight. Can you think of any more examples of human rights exclusion in Uganda or the States? What can we do to make human rights more accessible/viable for those in poverty? How can we give them a voice?

11 comments:

  1. I think if we first address basic human needs we can then address human rights that we often take for granted. If we first address food and other needs of families we then can address further human rights such as inequality.

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  2. I have a feeling that majority of the people do not know their rights apart from a few. Sensitization should be done daily as well as follow up to ensure that peole have a clear understanding of what human rights are, their implication and when applicable.

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  4. An example of human rights exclusion in America includes the brutality of the police force. Many citizens don't know their full rights and countless times have been taken advantage of. Citizens were taken advantage of in terms of the police disregarding any laws that pertain to them and decide to use full force and do whatever they feel like many times. Although there are many good police, there have been countless videos and evidence of police brutality in America and there is a continuous growing stigma against them. We can give these citizens a voice by setting better standards through precedence in court cases. For example, court cases should punish cops accordingly, such that other cops in the future know what they can and cannot do.

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  5. The largest thing that stuck with me about our visit with Dr. Livingstone is that apparently your ability to access your basic human rights in Uganda is tied directly to your socioeconomic status. In Uganda, the views that you take on certain issues and your perceived place in society are paramount when determining whether or not they apply to you. Being poor, uneducated, handicapped, homosexual, or associated with the opposition are all reasons why persons or government institutes and agencies a reason to trounce an individual’s basic human rights. Apparently, the Ugandan police are quite notorious for this, often carrying out vicious beatings for things many would consider minor annoyances or simply because a senior officer tells them too. I think the work that the Dr. Livingstone and the Human Rights Initiative do is phenomenal, and it is definitely a step in the right direction, however, I think a larger shift the cultural mentality of Uganda must happen if there is ever a hope of every member of society being equal.

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  6. It was very striking to me that lower class people in Uganda are often those who end up in prisons and they do not have the money to pay bail so they are often imprisoned for many months before even having a trial. Even though the laws say that all Ugandans have the right to be told what they are being arrested for and to have a trial within 48 hours, in practice that is not what happens. I agree with Laura that in Uganda basic human needs must be addressed before considering other human rights issues.

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  7. Going to this lesson was really eye opening for me because I hadn't realized before how much your level on income affects your actual and perceived human rights. I have always assumed by definition that no matter who you were or how you lived your life your basic human rights. But once you begin trying to exercise then you realize that they need some sort of backing to be true because without the backing it is easy for those in power to ignore the rights of the poor. I also found it interesting that Dr. Livingstone did not believe that it was his job to fight for LGBTQ rights, because in the US whenever you say human rights you are usually including LGBTQ rights within the umbrella of human rights.

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  8. Having discussions of Human Rights in the past and extending that conversation further with Dr. Livingstone (and even Dr. Bishop) has shown that the concept of human rights is essentially a privileged morality. Dr. Livingstone mentioned that one of his biggest challenges is to simply get the poorer members of society to become interested in human rights, and make it worth their time. So, aside from the fact that Ugandans face other violations of human rights such as their right to assemble, or the right to life, or food and shelter, none of that really matters. Ugandans who are below the poverty line aren't concerned about their "right", they're more concerned about their safety, having a roof above their heads and providing food. But no one is going to ensure they have these things, they themselves must procure these basic necessities. So if you really want Ugandans to have more access to human rights, you need to decrease the number of Ugandans under in both extreme and relative poverty.

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  9. Having a house on an Indian reservation, i believe an argument can be made that Native Americans are a group that is heavily discriminated against in the United States. Many of them live in poverty because of the oppression they have faced in the past years. Dr. Livingstone made the point that those who live in poverty are less aware and demanding of their rights, particularly those in Uganda. This is very sad and I believe can be overcome when those living in poverty have better access to a quality education. This would make it so they re fully aware of their rights and teach them how to exercise them.

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  10. I agree with Natalie's point that deciding what's best for the poor does not empower them. The best way to give a group a voice is to involve members of that group and have them lead the movement. I think a great way to empower those in poverty would be to create mentor programs. This could work in the U.S. and Uganda, and would consist of partnerships between successful business leaders in the communities and those who have had limited chances of success. If people like Patrick Bitature or even human rights activists like Dr. Livingstone were able to take someone living in poverty under their wing and show them skills necessary for success, the poor might begin to have more of a voice.

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  11. I think that human rights here is definitely a work in progress. What I've notices in Uganda is that there is a very apparent lower and upper class, but the middle class is not very visible, and there are not a large margin of the people who are middle class. I think that the poor here have little to no voice, and thats a problem. The first step to giving the lower class a voice would be to get rid of the corruption in the government (which is a hard thing to do) but when the lower class has a voice is when the lower class can vote fairly, get a fair trial, and not have to pay to get services that are already guaranteed in the constitution.

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