Human Rights

The documentary “The Girl in the River” takes us through the life of a girl whose rights are being violated. It has made me realise how there can be significantly contrasting perspectives on human rights and how religion can also play a vital role when determining whether something is ‘right’ or ‘wrong’. Prior to watching this documentary, I thought human rights were applied to every single human being regardless of nationality, culture, sex, age etc. in order to protect the rights of individuals. However, one’s perspectives can differ depending on whether you believe human rights should be universal or culturally relative. Universalism is the theory that everyone should have these rights and it applies across cultures. On the contrary, cultural relativism is the theory that no moral principles can be made to apply to all cultures, therefore, the choices, thoughts, and beliefs of a society should be accepted and respected globally. In “Girl in the River”, we can clearly identify Saba’s perspective to be more universal and the other hand her family to be culturally relative. The father and uncle believe it isn’t right for a girl to run off and marry someone else without their families consent, otherwise it is acknowledged as disrespect towards the family. I think there should be boundaries between religion and the rights of a human. Although there should be some kind of punishment if someone has done something against the religious teachings, it shouldn’t be to the extent of killing someone, especially if they are a family member. If I put myself in the shoes of Saba’s family members, surely I would in a way feel as though I was stabbed in the back as in terms of the Islamic culture, maintaining the families reputation is vital, so for a family member to just run off would be dishonoring towards the family. But at the same time, from Saba’s perspective, what the family members did was sinful because they had sworn on the Quran, they wouldn’t hurt her however they went against that. Religion is something many people strongly connect to, therefore, it is difficult to change peoples beliefs. But with that being said, there are some human rights that shouldn’t be violated no matter your religious beliefs and teachings, such as the freedom of thought/speech, the right being born free and equal in dignity and rights, most importantly the right to live. Every single person has a life of their own, therefore, they have the right to control their own paths, make their own decisions and think freely without having to face brutality, which unfortunately is often the situation many people are being put in. Cultural aspects can create a huge influence on the way one thinks and acts, but we should distinguish between these beliefs and the rights of every individual, be able to determine where to draw the line. 


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2 thoughts on “Human Rights

  1. A very well structured post. You’ve clearly outlined both perspectives on the situation. I liked how you imagined yourself in the shoes of both sides, but you drew the line when it came to a person’s life. You also talked about how a person remains an individual despite the country they live in, the cultures that they were brought up with and that’s why human rights should be applied universally. This is a point that I strongly agree with.

  2. I think you explained the difference between cultural relativism and universalism very well, and how it was relevant in the documentary. You also did a good job explaining why some countries and cultures don’t accept universal human rights

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