Human Rights & Women’s Rights

The League of Jewish Women in London held their Human Rights Day Seminar on Wednesday 12th December 2018, discussing women’s rights on the 70th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Rabbi Lee Wax spoke on behalf of Jewish Women’s Aid, which supports 600 women and 100 children in the UK, but know that this is only the tip of the iceberg.  She spoke about the impact of the #MeToo campaign in helping to enable public discussion and change attitudes, and it is clearly no longer possible for industries such as media and sport to cover up sexual harassment and abuse. However, when women take perpetrators to court, it is very difficult for the victims to get justice.

During her lifetime, a woman will experience some form of abuse and 1 in 5 women will experience sexual violence. Sexual harassment will affect the lives of all women in the UK.  Every girl has experienced unwanted touching and it is not acceptable. Women who are raped often blame themselves and, as most cases of rape do not get to court. Rape prosecutions have plummeted with only 23% of cases being brought to court and only a third achieving a conviction. This is a worldwide problem and women have to talk about this openly as it is a basic Human Right for women and children to live without violence.

Mia Hasenson-Gross, Director of the Rene Cassin organization, spoke about holding governments and institutions to account to ensure they abide by the principles set down in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 70 year ago.  The phrase ‘never again’ was the driving idea behind the Declaration, which was the work of Eleanor Roosevelt and Rene Cassin.  The Declaration is not a legally binding document but it was signed and accepted by 168 countries. At that time, this was the best that could be done and since then, there has been nothing to compare with it.

This was the first time that it was acknowledged that women’s rights were Human Rights.  It gave women the rights to equal pay and education.  Until then, only men had these rights.

At a time when intolerance is on the increase, Human Rights are more important than ever before.  The Rene Cassin organisation works with immigrants who are detained in  Immigration Centres with no time limit, and help people with mental illness to get protection under the Human Rights Act.

Lee and Mia both stressed the importance of Women’s Human Rights, speaking about cases of physical, sexual and psychological violence.   Today, women also have to contend with economic, spiritual and cyber abuse, and both agreed that for some women the most dangerous place for them was in their own home.

The meeting was chaired by Yvonne Brent, the UK Vice President of ICJW,  and the vote of thanks was given by Dawn Freedman. Our picture above shows (l to r): Yvonne Josse, President of the League of Jewish Women, Rabbi Lee Wax from Jewish Women’s Aid, Penelope Conway, President of ICJW, Yvonne Brent, ICJW UK Vice-President, and Mia Hasenson-Gross, Director of Rene Cassin.