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The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

SMU lecturer talks human rights

By Katharine Robb/reporter

Most students’ goals focus on a successful career, and students forget about what is really important on a day-to-day basis, an SMU lecturer told NE students Oct. 24.

“It’s not you. It’s not me. But it’s someone,” Rick Halperin said.

Halperin, founder of the Embrey Human Rights Program, told students about several pressing events currently taking place in the world that students should be aware of and asked what the majority of current students are doing to support human rights.

“We live in a free society and often don’t take the time to think of others,” he said.

Genocide, rape, torture, prostitution and murder are running rampant throughout the world, especially in Third World countries, Halperin said.

It is society’s job to put an end to this tragedy, he said. Even if people are not the ones causing these acts, it is a moral debate whether they can be held accountable for the lack of aid going toward these millions of people.

“Our real job isn’t to become a lawyer, doctor or astronaut,” he said. “It’s finding a means to an end.” 

In the Congo alone, more than 16,000 women are raped daily, Halperin said. Children as young as 10 are recruited into the army and forced to commit violent acts toward people in their communities. The issue of child soldiers has proved controversial over many years, he said. U.N. officials are not allowed to step into the Congo’s boundaries by law, so the men, women and children within those boundaries are left to fend for themselves against the expanding Congo military. Since 2003, an estimated 5 million people have been killed, Halperin said.

To put the situation into perspective, roughly 5 million people live in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. Halperin said if DFW experienced the genocide currently happening in the Congo, the entire Metroplex would be eliminated, yet this violence is an everyday reality for the people of the Congo.

Halperin reminded students of the genocide in Rwanda that was brought to light in the mid-’90s. Currently, the issues of Darfur are on the rest of the world’s radar. In recent years, the sufferings in Darfur have been a media frenzy and have called people from different walks of life to do something about it, he said.

Even with the large publicity Darfur has received, the number of rapes, abductions and genocides is still rising daily, Halperin said. Every day, villages are burned to ashes leaving millions homeless. More than 2.5 million people have been displaced from their homes and into refugee camps. Overcrowding, disease and poor sanitation all run rampant at these camps, he said.

Trafficking also takes place in the refugee camps. Halperin said 30 million people are enslaved or abducted per year in Darfur. Children as young as 5 are forced into prostitution, having to commit sexual acts with adults sometimes 10-15 times a day, he said.

Rape and prostitution are leading to many unplanned, unhealthy pregnancies, which severely add to the overpopulation of the country, Halperin said.

These issues are not the first things that come to mind when people wake up and are certainly not the last before they go to sleep, Halperin said. But for the people of Darfur, the Congo, Rwanda and more, it’s the only thing they know.

Halperin pointed fingers.

“You’re not off the hook for genocide in Darfur,” he said. “It’s easy to go, ‘Sorry that’s going on, but it’s 6,000 miles away.’ You have got to get into this world by grasping what is going on.

“I’m just trying to raise issues with you that the things you take for granted are not the norms for everyone elsewhere.”

For more information on the Embrey Rights Program, visit www.smu.edu/humanrights.

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