Sunday, November 18, 2012

Women's Rights in Ireland

Finishing up my third travel break in Dublin, then back to Copenhagen tomorrow. Ireland is a gorgeous country with such a rich history, but there's no avoiding its troubled past, especially when considering issues of Human Rights violations.

Most people know about the Potato Famine back in the late 19th century that happened under British rule and hundreds of thousands of Irish people died of starvation. More recently, in the 1970s, fighting broke out between the Protestant and Catholic populations in the country during a period known as The Troubles. Thousands of people were killed in car bombings and protests due to religious intolerance and political corruption. There were also several accounts of torture being used to gather information on the IRA.

Thinking about Ireland today, tourism is booming (even though the economy is pretty weak), the tensions between Catholics and Protestants have diminished, and the current president of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins, is a popular leader both nationally and internationally. Ireland appears to be on an upwards slope, but there are still some major legal issues standing in the way.

When I arrived in Ireland earlier this week, I heard on the news a story about a woman who died of blood poisoning in a hospital after coming in a week earlier suffering from a miscarriage. Even though her life was at risk, the hospital did not allow for an abortion since the baby's heart was still beating.

Abortion is a really sensitive topic, especially in a country like Ireland where 95% of the people are Christians, but it's still unbelievable to think that, with all the advances in modern medicine, a woman could lose her life so easily. The real problem is that there are no clear or detailed laws regarding abortion (probably because it's such a sensitive topic that nobody wants to talk about in politics). I'm not going to comment on my personal beliefs on the matter, but it's still interesting to think about the legal systems of two, small European nations like Denmark and Ireland, and see how contrasting they are. In Denmark, abortion was fully legalized in 1973, whereas Ireland's last law regarding abortion was passed in 1992, allowing abortion to be legal if a woman's life was at risk, however it was a very vague law and apparently does not hold much credibility in real cases.

If you want to read more on this story, here's a link to a recent article about it:
March for Women's Rights in Ireland

Also, here's a full list of equality issues and Irish women's rights provided by the European Union:
The EU and Irish Women

Not the most cheerful topic to talk about, but there's so much more to these places I'm visiting than just the "tourist traps" and pretty buildings. Every country is dealing with real conflicts that shouldn't go unnoticed. I am a Human Rights major after's my job to seek out the sad, depressing issues and show them to the world so that, hopefully one day, these injustices will be dealt with and resolved.

Oh the life of an undying optimist (

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