Why Human Rights?
Our group felt very passionate to human rights issues. We believe that there are basic fundamental rights that everyone is entitled to simply because she or he is a human being, and neither your race, creed, gender, or sexual preference can stop you from having these rights.
Human rights violations occur when actions by the state or other entities abuse, ignore, or deny basic human rights. We feel these basic rights to be: Right to life, Freedom from torture, Freedom from slavery, Right to a fair trial, Freedom of speech, Freedom of thought, conscience and religion, and freedom of movement.
We have examined past and present progress that has been made to this day in the advancement in human rights, but also have looked at where we can go from here.
I focused on conveying human rights truths from compelling stories and poems, important documents, and significant individuals.
I picked the stories about Guinea Bissau and Iraq’s first time voting as a democratic nation, because I feel that voting is the best way for an average citizen to voice their opinions. Also, to be able to make a statement and vote for the individual that best represents your views. I feel it is a shame that these nations have had to worry about the treat of bloodshed from some who try to manipulate the democratic process. However, their ability to be able to vote at all is progress within itself.
I felt that an image of Gandhi was necessary, because not only was he an outstanding leader for Indian Nationalism, but his persistence to non- violence led India to independence. In addition, inspired movements for civil rights and freedom across the world. The image I chose shows him with his head down. I feel this image represents that he was not some angelic almighty leader, but just a man. He was one human being who was willing to sacrifice himself for what he believed in.
The story of the 97 years-old who has voted in every Indian election held since the country gained independence from Great Britain. Shows that even today the older man understands the significance of voting, because he knows what it is like not to have that opportunity.
In addition, I decided to mention the Virginia Declaration of Rights due to the ideas it contained. The document also influenced other American documents such as the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights. The document proclaimed many of the basic human right ideas to we believe to be true. That “All men are by nature equally free and independent and have certain inherent rights, of which, when they enter a state of society, they cannot, by any compact, deprive or divest their posterity.” Even though at the time only wealthy, landowning, white men had the power to vote at that time, the document created a foundation for rights that we have embedded in our existence as true. And I find this document to be beautiful in its intent.
I chose to focus on issues that pertained to the last few words of the pledge of Allegiance. The words “With Liberty and Justice for All” are an important part of the pledge that often goes unnoticed or is sometimes forgotten. Through the issues of gay marriage, human trafficking, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”, and legal rights being granted to all, I was able to find some images that portrayed the exact truths that I expected to find.
In the picture entitled “Right to A Fair Trial”, at first glance, viewers may be lost. As I researched more, I found that this man was being dragged through a city in Africa because the people in his community accused him of stealing a cell phone and decided to take manners into their own hands. Living in the United States of America, we are given the right to a fair trial and it is a culture shock to see that this man was being reprimanded without proper court proceedings. Everyone deserves the opportunity to defend themselves.
In the picture entitled “Modern Day Slavery”, the truth about human trafficking is being conveyed. The picture represented a young girl being taken but her mouth was covered. The covering of her mouth displays that maybe people within our community are not speaking up or speaking out about this issue. The age of the girl represents that it could be anyone. It could be your neighbor, your son, your daughter, your mother, or even you. The dirtiness of the man’s hands conveys that he does not really care about the girl or he would not have his dirty hands over her mouth. The strong grip on her shoulder demonstrates power.
The picture entitled “With Liberty and Justice for ALL” represents the turn of time. There are two men walking into city hall holding hands which I interpret as them walking in to get married. This idea of legalized gay marriage is new to the United States. The stature of the men as they enter the building exhibit pride and strength. They are walking from the light into the darkness which could represent the unknown but sometimes in life, risks have to be taken.
Why I chose to do civil rights and women’s rights, is that they are both things people fought so hard for but will never truly be won. Women have rights in the United States but so many other places in the world they can barely leave their house let alone work. The Civil rights movement was a huge battle but racism will always exist in the world no matter how hard you fight.
The picture of women shaped into a female symbol
This picture was just amazing to me. It says so much with no words. All these women got together on International Women’s day to do this and show that women are people too. It is a good idea and I would have definitely been involved in something a huge as that. The glass ceiling still exist we have to fight through it as women and as countries.
The picture of the girl sitting in a chair with a blindfold on
This is a sad picture to me but it is also very powerful. It is a teenage girl waiting to meet her future husband that is probably a grown man she has never met. I feel like she should have the right to say no, the right to want to decide it shouldn’t be up to her father or family or anybody but herself. It is just another thing we take for granted in the United States that we aren’t forced into marriage or anything really. I just felt the sympathy for her.
The picture of Little Rock Nine
This is an iconic picture. It is everywhere. It is also powerful in that she is just walking to school and ignoring all the ignorance behind her. They were all so strong and brave. This happened almost 50 years ago but racism is still so prevalent and around. It is just sad the way that something’s never change. The only thing that frustrates me about this picture is the one girl screaming…why is she screaming? No one else in the crowd is reacting as drastically so I just couldn’t understand.
Throughout history, photographs have been used to convey “truths,” and educate about issues threatening human rights. Photographers have used these images to represent larger ideals and values that cannot always be relayed, or summed up concisely. The images are powerful statements even if they do not say a word. I chose to include images from Shannon Jensen’s project “The Long Walk” to convey this idea. Even though it is just a simple image of a pair of shoes, they represent the journey and strength of the civilian refuges in Sudan. The image allows the viewer to take a moment and put themselves in the shoes of Mam Odom Bar and Sela Changil—two women who have lost everything, but had the resilience to keep going.
Images of human rights issues can also alter our perceptions and force us to reexamine our own views. The photograph of the young girl Rajani is once such image. The words “child bride” can evoke images of uncaring, unloving adults binding their children in loveless marriages. There is something so haunting about Rajani’s eyes as her uncle carries her back to her wedding after a nap. We want to stop the proceedings and save Rajani from her fate, and yet she trustingly wraps her arms around his neck, and he seems to carry her lovingly. The image makes the viewer question what factors would cause a family member to carry out such an arrangement.
Human rights photos can also empower. Zana Briski’s Kids with Cameras programs allows children to convey their lives to the world, and capture the parts of their lives they find important. There is something so very powerful and truthful about the children’s images. The photographs have such an honest quality. They don’t seem preconceived or staged. Instead they are raw, beautiful images that show the hardships these children face, but also the joy. I chose to include the picture “Neighborhood Nights” to represent this idea. Taken by a twelve- year-old girl named Mariam, the photograph shows a normal night where children play on a makeshift swing among piles of garbage. The children come from Christian refugee in families in Cairo who are known as the Zaballeen, or “garbage collectors.” They sort through massive piles of trash, and then sell it to manufacturers as a source of income. Many of their children do not receive an education and face health problems from exposure to the waste. The image raises questions about the children’s future and well-being, but also provides an intimate look at their lives, while conveying the idea that there is happiness and joy.
All of the images included in our magazine resonate with me because they represent both past and current human rights issues, and also how these issues affect so many human beings of all ages, races, genders, and orientations. I finally included a quote by Nelson Mandela that conveys the ideas and sentiments behind human rights in such a beautiful and powerful way: “To deny people their human rights is to challenge their very humanity.”