Human rights – made to be broken?

“The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is generally agreed to be the foundation of international human rights law.”  These laws are made to protect every human life on Earth.  They include the right to life, to equality, to be free, regardless of religion, gender, nationality and ethnicity one is, to be treated with respect and dignity, your privacy respected, free will and to refuse anything you don’t want.

Whether you are as fit as a fiddle, or on your death bed, you still have rights to not be alienated and discriminated against – yet these rights are often forgotten.  Crime, disease, peoples opinions and views, are just a few reasons why individual’s rights are being violated on a daily basis.  The right to access to basic health care is one of the most important rights, to me, mainly because I am in the medical field and see the importance and the simplicity of things any health provider can provide to those in need.  Many people I come across when working on blocks come from poor backgrounds where they can’t afford a medical scheme, they sometimes can’t even afford to get to the hospital at times, but they are so appreciative to be seen by someone even if they are still learning and making mistakes.

Working in government-funded hospitals and clinics, I see people’s rights being violated on a daily basis; in-patients who are treated poorly by members of staff, being ignored and not listened to about their concerns and fears, being ridiculed by other patients – generally just not treated like a human being.  I have seen nurses drag patients by their elbow and thrown onto a bed from a wheelchair, I’ve heard about patients hitting other patients with metal pieces of a bed, I have seen patients lying in their own faeces for hours without anyone there to help them, being made to feel inferior due to not being well and treated like they don’t matter to anyone.  Yet I have also seen patients violate the rights of health professionals, students being yelled at by patients, called names and telling them they are useless, I’ve heard of staff members also being rude and ignoring students and refusing to help them learn.

We have all these laws and rights put in place yet very few people, it seems, actually abide by them.  But to me, as long as I can go home at the end of the day and think to myself “I was the best person I could have been today; I handle others with dignity and respect”, then that is the best I can do.  The world is so diverse that you will most likely never get complete harmony.  It is up to the individual themselves to make the change in them and respect the rights of others around them and treat each other with equality.  It’s really heart breaking for me to watch others be treated so badly, especially when they haven’t really done anything to deserve it and I’ve realised now that this will be an ongoing struggle for me emotionally for the rest of my time working in the health sector.  I just hope that it won’t affect me too badly, in a negative way, to ensure my passion to help others is not lost, nor to lose faith in the human race.  As for now, I will remain to be the best student I can be, show my respect towards other professionals, patients and their families to ensure the best outcome for them can be achieved.



The Foundation of International Human Rights Laws.  United Nations.  Retrieved from:



2 Replies to “Human rights – made to be broken?”

  1. Thanks for a good read and some thought provoking stuff! We see it every day how human rights are violated. Nelson Mandela said “To deny people their human rights is to challenge their very humanity.” I am sure that at some stage we have all been guilty of violating another’s rights without even being aware of it.

    I am interested to know if you would take the same stance of protecting every patients human rights to someone who you know is a criminal. Would it still be so heartbreaking to see his rights being just so slightly violated? Just a thought. Its very easy to think that its okay in some situations.

    We live in a fallen world and sometimes I myself question if there is any humanity left in some humans. I like your perspective of starting with yourself and making improvements there. We all have a long way to go.

    Great title. Maybe try find some literature to back up your argument.


  2. True, I have been confronted with a case where a patient was not safe to go home (fro a physiotherapy perspective) but the doctor decided to discarge him “immediately” because they needed the bed, this patient’s right were violated and there was nothing i could do , because im only a student but it still is a hige concern for me because why are we having hospitals where people are supposed to get better when this is what is happening? However, I do believe I should have spoken up and i regret not doing so. In future i suggest that you speak because even though we are only students our voice can and should be heard. It will make a difference.
    I also do agree that literature will make your argument stronger !
    keep up the good work though 🙂


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.