Similarities between human rights and religion: the beginning of a reconciliation.

The collaboration with the Youth Group is ongoing; on the 22nd of May the first discussions on human rights and religion occurred!

For helping them understand that human rights are not in violation of religious precepts, and instead often stand by the same issues, GCI’s staff organized an icebreaker where some human rights were listed and had to be matched with religious concepts. Even though they tackle several issues differently, they aim for the same objectives.

DSC01472But before getting to the heart of the matter, a preliminary problem was brought up: why should we care about human rights? And what about if they are contrary to our traditions? The distinction between law and traditions is often blurry. Paying a due for marrying a woman is considered a rule of law. Considering rape a crime, even if perpetrated by husband towards his wife, is surprising for the audience. This ignorance created confusion and a lot of skeptical questions about human rights, especially from girls, who suffer more often the violation of their rights. Only when we are aware of our right and what means we have for their protection can we fight to see them respected. Moreover, we can avoid infringing someone else’s right. For instance, breast ironing is a tradition in Cameroon, but it is damaging for the girl, it is a violation of her many of her rights. Only by being conscious of what damages it can cause is it possible to eradicate this tradition. This doesn’t mean we should abandon all our traditions, but it just gives us the chance to question ourselves, keeping our positive tradition and erasing things that are harmful to us, and to society.

Returning to the heart of the discussion, a first step to a reconciliation with human rights seems to be done. Human rights and religion often walk on the same path, for instance, the former advocates for equal treatment for everybody and the latter professes that everybody is equal before the eyes of God. Once you realize that human rights and religion embrace the same challenges it is easy to comprehend that human rights and religion can improveon mutual benefits. A central issue where it is evident that human rights and religion stand by the same side is the right to property: in some areas of Cameroon, women are not allowed to own property. This implies both a violation of human rights and Christian precepts. Human rights can also strengthen religion: religion proclaims “studying to show yourself approved”. How would this be possible without the right to education?