Article 6

Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law.

Imagine you work hard everyday. You clean your house, you care for your children and the farm animals and you even scrape what little you can for a little side venture: sewing for your neighbors. After twenty years of doing this your hands are in pain and you want to see a doctor. Your husband, however, does not let you. He controls the purse strings, which means he decides whether or not you get to spend the money, including the money you brought in sewing for your neighbors, and it is not going to be on medicine. There is no one to turn to. The law says you, and the fruits of your labors, are his. You are not a person of your own but an extension of him. For a long time in this country, and in many places in the world still, women do not have to imagine this.

Some of this has been self-serving neglect on the part of law givers over the centuries. However much of it has been willful and carefully instituted. Sections of the Bible hold this view of women and it has been codified in other places down the years. This has only improved in the Western World the past century or so. You had no legal status as a woman except as a daughter or wife. Your rights were what your father or husband gave you.

Women are not the only ones to have suffered this way. Children often have no legal status whatsoever, being viewed not just as the responsibility of (which is right and proper) but the property of their parents. A child can be sent to work, the money going to his parents (usually father) and has no legal recourse at all. Racial, national, religious and other minorities have all felt this kind of treatment at one point or another.

The law must include everyone. Proviso’s may be made within the law for certain circumstances, within reason. For instance a child cannot bear the responsibilities of an adult and therefore should not have all the rights. That child, however, needs to be recognized as an entity in the eyes of the law. What rights they have should be protected and they should have the means to do so. If we let anyone fall through the cracks this way, any one can, which is an invitation to tyranny.

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