16 Days of Activism – Day 16
Today we are celebrating the final day of 16 days of activism, Human Rights Day. Often the clients we work with have a limited understanding of their own human rights and how this intersects with their experiences of domestic abuse and the legal obligations and responsibilities of professional agencies that are supporting them. Both staff and clients have been working with the British institute of Human Rights (BIHR) to develop the Human Rights Tool and participate in ‘mapping’ sessions. This has provided a platform for victims/survivors to both learn about their rights, and also ensure that the information is accessible to others experiencing domestic abuse. The individuals that participated have felt incredibly empowered since gaining a much deeper understanding of their human rights, and how they are able to use these to advocate for themselves when engaging with professionals. Often, it can appear that Human Rights are not considered when fundamental decisions regarding the client’s situation, are being made by other professional bodies such as social care and the police, and therefore it is imperative that Human Rights are considered by all professionals engaging with individuals experiencing domestic abuse. The sessions have been invaluable in allowing both the victims/survivors and case working teams to develop more confidence in using Human Rights in advocacy work to achieve positive outcomes.
“The British Institute of Human Rights (BIHR), an independent charity committed to bringing human rights to life across the UK. At BIHR we aim for the light bulb moments – when people make the connection between human rights and the work they do every day. We move human rights from the law books to everyday life, using real examples and a practical human rights based approach”. You can find out more about our work here: https://www.bihr.org.uk/our-work – British Institute of Human Rights
BIHR have recently written a blog post about the work they have been doing alongside domestic abuse services take a look here:
Additionally, you can find more information about human rights on:
- We all have human rights and we each have the same rights. Sometimes these rights may be limited but they can never be taken away from us.
- Our human rights are enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the European Convention on Human Rights and, in the UK, the Human Rights Act 1998.
- The Human Rights Act (HRA) 1998 sets out the fundamental rights and freedoms that everyone in the UK is entitled to.
- The HRA means that public bodies/authorities, such as the police and social services, are legally obligated to respect and uphold our legal rights.
- The HRA also means that as far as possible laws should be applied that respect our human rights. If neither of the above happens, you have the right to bring legal cases to court.
- The 16 rights that are protected include: the right to: life, to not to be tortured or treated in an inhuman or degrading way, to respect for private and family life, home and correspondence, and not to be discriminated against.
- Certain rights are absolute, meaning they can never be restricted, while other non-absolute rights can be restricted if it is a lawful, legitimate, and proportionate response.
- Although the right to be free from domestic violence is not explicitly stated in legislation or international treaties, the rights protected in the HRA 1998 can be utilised to respond when human rights are not respected or protected by public bodies.
- If you believe your human rights have been restricted unlawfully by a public body, you can formally challenge this by writing a letter of complaint and seeking expert advice from Citizens Advice or a solicitor.
- Human rights can be used by victim-survivors and support agencies as a tool to raise awareness and advocate for change. Challenge human rights issues using human rights language and refer to relevant Articles of the HRA 1998.
- Following invaluable training from The British Institute of Human Rights, we are focussed upon empowering victim-survivors and staff to know their own rights and advocating for them to ensure their rights are respected and upheld.
- The British Institute of Human Rights has a whole host of free and downloadable human rights resources that can be found here: https://www.bihr.org.uk/Pages/Category/get our resources
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