As reported today in the news, homosexuality was decriminalized in India today. However there are still many archaic laws around the world that require changing for making our planet a better place for us with regards to human rights and that of animals.
- Marital Rape: In many countries such as India, Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Malaysia, marital rape is still allowed. India has a been showing a poor record in recognizing female sexual consent and most people believe that sex is obligatory once a woman is married to a man regardless of her refusal. According to this report for example, Indian government has last year refused to uphold the rights of consent for married women stating that laws against marital rape ‘could destabilize the institution of marriage.’ In contrast UK criminalized non-consensual sex within marriage since early 1990s and it may send the husband to jail for many years. According to this BBC report marital rape, date rape or acquaintance rape in UK is to be taken as seriously as stranger rape. It is time for an international movement to make non-consensual sex illegal regardless of marriage or relationship.
- Child Marriage: Some countries such as Saudi Arabia, South Sudan, Somalia allow little children to be married off because of absolutely no legal age specification for marriage. In around 117 countries marriage of children, especially girls is allowed according to this report . In many other countries, although marriage of children is not legal, the implementation of laws regarding this is poor resulting in many girl children being married to men against their will at an early age. Not only does this result in marital rape, the lack of marital rape laws and absence of women’s rights makes it even more difficult for any justice to be possible in some countries. Human rights groups need to strengthen their case for laws to protect girl child and children from marriage and rape.
- Women’s Rights: While Saudi Arabia recently allowed women to drive, when it comes to taking any financial decision, career, travel or marriage, women need permission from a male relative. According to this controversial ‘male guardianship’ system, husbands, fathers, brothers and even sons can make decisions on ‘behalf’ of the woman. Similarly women in many places are forced to wear burkas and hijabs that cover their body, hair and face. There is an urgent call to end the male guardianship system in Saudi Arabia.
- Animal Rights: From being used as food in most countries to being abused in farms for the sake of milk and poultry animal rights have been brutally violated all over the world for several centuries. Some countries have a few laws regarding pets and media usage of animals while some do not even have such laws. United Kingdom was one of the first countries to introduce laws for animal welfare according to this BBC report. Even in such countries slaughtering animals for religious reasons such as halal and kosher has been permitted which remains a major violation of animal rights as it requires animals to be consciously killed by knife instead of stunning. In either case the entire idea of allowing animals to be killed for meat does against the concept of compassion and cruelty free living. Regardless of religious and mass mentality laws against killing of animals for food, fun or cruelty need to be enacted if we are to have a sensible earth. Basic measures such as preventing caging of animals in zoos, use in circuses and other industries still need to be taken in most countries.
- Tree Cutting: Not only do trees help our environment, they also have a long life that needs to be respected. However many countries have insufficient laws governing tree felling. In many developing nations, we see cities and towns such as Mumbai, Shanghai, Dubai and Istanbul as shown in this report, there are hardly any trees. In many of these cities, massive construction has depleted the space of almost all tree cover, with absolutely no provisions to preserve green and open spaces or plant more trees. Laws to plant more trees and to protect a large percentage of the city space with tree cover are desperately needed. An example of a petition to prevent losing the last green space left in Mumbai at Aarey colony is found here.
- Indigenous Rights: British colonists have in the past taken possession over large pieces of lands and entire continents such as Australia and North America by their force and a display of racial and religious superiority over indigenous populations all over the world. Land and property therefore have largely been traded and owned by western laws with little or no regard for the rights of the original inhabitants of the place. Treasures and wealth of countries that were colonized and ruled over in the past has already made western empires richer while people in the nations that were ruled by the west, including African nations and India have suffered several years of poverty and economic neglect in-spite of being financially rich in the historical past. Laws to return indigenous land and wealth to its original owners is necessary and a matter of struggle in many cases.
- Arms and Ammunition: We all agree that we need more peace in the world. Yet the arms and ammunition industry is worth billions and the profiteers behind every side of war. Not only do we have nuclear weapons still in place in powerful as well as developing nations, we also have guns sold legally in the USA making it life unsafe for the common public including school children.