Know Your Rights!

By Esther Wang

Celebrate International Human Rights Day

Every person on this planet, whether black, white, Latino, Asian, man, woman or child, is born with what are called human rights. These basic rights include the right to freedom, the right to an education, the right to have your needs met, and the right to live in peace.

Every year, there is a special day when people all over the world remember these human rights. December 10, International Human Rights Day, commemorates the day in 1948 when many countries came together and created what is known as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Unfortunately, human rights are not always respected today. Billions of people live in poverty, have no clean drinking water or electricity, and do not receive education. Children die from disease and starvation every year. Wars, including the United States’ war in Iraq, leave children without parents, and people without homes.

Even in the U.S., people are unfairly thrown into prison, families struggle to put food on the table, people lack health insurance, and many are victims of racism and discrimination. Oftentimes, these human rights abuses would not take place if wealthy countries and corporations did not exploit poor countries and poor people.

Wealthy countries could also give more money to help solve problems of injustice and inequality. But too often, these countries don’t view human rights abuse as an important cause.

“I think it’s sad that countries like the U.S. don’t care about human rights,” said 11-year-old Janita Rosado. “We should care about people all over the world.”

Some facts about human rights:

•    More than 1.3 billion people live on less than $1 a day.

•    Women make up 70% of the world’s poor.

•    More than 1 million children are forced into prostitution every year.

•    Almost 1 billion people cannot read or write their names.

•    A few hundred millionaires have as much money as the world’s poorest 2.5 billion people.

•    30,000 children die each day due to poverty.

•    1.3 billion people have no clean water.

•    2 billion people have no electricity.

•    12% of the world’s people use 85% of the world’s water.
•    15 million children have been  orphaned by AIDS worldwide.

Basic Human Rights

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights lists 30 basic rights that all people have, no matter where they live. Some of the most important are:

•    You have the right to life and to live in freedom and safety.

•    You have the right to live free from discrimination based on your race, sex, religion, language, how much money you have, and nationality.

•    Nobody has the right to put you in prison unjustly.

•    Nobody has the right to torture you.

•    You have the right to think what you want and say what you want.

•    You have the right to meet your basic needs like food, clothing, and shelter.

•    You have the right to go to school.

•    No one can destroy or take away your human rights.

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