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Has the Universal Declaration of Human Rights Humiliated Woman?

The Declaration of Human Rights (article 23, clause iii) says: "Everyone, who works, has the right to a just and favourable remuneration, ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection.

Clause (i) of article 25 says: "Everyone has the right to a standard of living, adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other means being not available for livelihood, in circumstances beyond his control".

These two articles imply that every man, who forms a family, has to bear the expenses of his wife and children and that their expenses are considered to be a part of his own expenses.

Though the Declaration of Human Rights specifically states that man and woman have equal rights, it does not regard woman 5 maintenance by man as derogatory to this equality. Hence, those who always quote this Declaration as an authority should regard the question of woman's maintenance by her husband as finally settled and a fait accompli. Will those Westernised people, who call everything Islamic reactionary, allow themselves to outrage even the sanctity of this Declaration, and to describe it as a vestige of woman's slavery?

Furthermore, when the Declaration of Human Rights says that everyone has the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or lack of means of livelihood in circumstances beyond his or her control it not only describes widowhood as a blow to livelihood but also mentions it as parallel with unemployment, sickness and disability. Thus it puts the women in the category of the unemployed, the sick, the disabled and the superannuated. Is this not a big insult to woman? Had such an expression been found in a book or a legal code of an Eastern country, certainly a great hue and cry would have been raised by now.

But those, who are realistic enough not to be influenced by false propaganda and look at things squarely, know well that neither the law of creation, which has made man a means of livelihood for woman, is derogatory to her, nor is the Declaration of Human Rights, which has put widowhood in the category of unemployment, disparaging. Similarly, the Islamic law, which has made woman's maintenance obligatory on man, has in no way made her inferior. It is a fact that she has been created in such a way that she needs man and is dependent on him.

Man and woman have been created interdependent with a view to making the union between them stronger and domestic relations, on which human happiness depends, firmer. If woman depends on man financially, man also depends on her for his mental peace. This interdependence brings them closer and unites them better.

Adapted from the book: "Woman and Her Rights" by: "Shahid Murtaza Mutahhari"

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