Tag Archives: women's rights

The Quest to Pantheonize Olympe de Gouges

Perched atop the Montagne Saint Geneviève in Paris, The Panthéon is a secular mausoleum for distinguished French citizens. Since 1791, it has been a temple of the nation and an altar to liberty. The building, which had formerly been a church was transformed to a secular celebration with patriotic statuary and murals. To be Pantheonized is to be celebrated by the nation as a hero.

On January 7, 2022, a movement to Pantheonize Olympe de Gouges launched a petition to achieve this goal. According to the organizers, “the political exclusion of women has long persisted and its effects continue to be felt….Olympe de Gouges fought this exclusion at the root, she immediately denounced its injustice and misdeeds.

Olympe de Gouges was is best remembered for championing women’s rights in her Declaration of the Rights of Woman and the Female Citizen (1791). As a humanist, she opposed discrimination, violence and oppression in all its forms.

According to olympedegouges.eu, Olympe was “denied a place in the powerful circles of her day she found her political voice by writing an astonishing number of pamphlets and posters that she freely disseminated around Paris. Her texts chart her battles against injustice and inequality, her belief that solidarity and cooperation should predominate, her hatred of dictatorships and the corrupting influence of power, her profound pacifism, her respect for mankind, her love of nature, and, of course, her desire that women be allowed a worthwhile role in society. She pleaded against slavery and the death penalty, dreamt of a more equal society and proposed intelligent taxation plans to enable wealth to be more fairly divided. She called for a form of welfare state, trial by jury and reasonable divorce laws to protect women and children from penury. Believing in the power of drama to encourage political change she wrote several plays that ingeniously highlight contemporary concerns...For having unreservedly expressed her opinions on democracy she was considered, by those in power during the last years of the French Revolution, to be a dangerous agitator. She was guillotined in Paris on the 3rd November 1793.”

Whether Olympe de Gouges is Pantheonized or not is a matter for the citizens of France. But it certainly seems as though she ought to be a leading contender.

What was Happening in Canada At Those Times?

In Canada in 1793, the Act Against Slavery came into force, making Upper Canada (i.e. Ontario) the first British-based jurisdiction to bring an end to slavery. While the act was a compromise that did not do all that it ought to have done, it remained in force until 1833 when it was superseded by the British Parliament’s Slavery Abolition Act.

Citations, References And Other Reading

  1. Featured Photo Courtesy of : https://olympedegougesaupantheon.org/about/
  2.  https://www.olympedegouges.eu/
  3. https://www.lemonde.fr/en/opinion/article/2023/01/14/olympe-de-gouges-an-exemplary-symbol-of-feminism-and-humanism-must-join-the-pantheon_6011553_23.html

The views, opinions and analyses expressed in the articles on Humanist Freedoms are those of the contributor(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the publishers.

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Mahsa Amini: The Tragedy that Reminds the World Why Policing Must Be Secular

Image Courtesy Wikipedia

Amidst a set of global events such as the COVID-19 pandemic/epidemic response, the war in Ukraine and the so-called culture wars of right wing versus left wing politics, it is predictable, if not absolutely inevitable, that attention to the ongoing travesties and tragedies of violated fundamental human rights would be reduced.

It seems equally likely that faith-based authoritarians (or for that matter any ideologues) would take advantage of the distracted times to increase their entrenched influence and control.

HumanistFreedoms.com hopes that the distractions of the early 2020’s may finally pass and that secularist organizations may again be relied-upon to focus attention and action upon promoting humanist values and undertaking serious opposition to theocracies and religious police forces.

The tragic death of Mahsa Amini seems like an excellent matter to begin with.

Humanists International (Excerpts below from HI Sept 28, 2022)

In a statement made during the General Debate segment of the 51st UN Human Rights Council, Humanists International’s Advocacy Officer, Lillie Ashworth, responded to the recent murder in custody of 22-year old Kurdish-Iranian Mahsa Amini. Amini had been arrested by Iran’s “morality police” on 13 September for wearing her hijab “improperly”. She was accused of being in violation of Iran’s discriminatory compulsory veiling laws which require girls from the age of 9 to cover their hair completely. As several UN independent experts stated in the days following her death, there is evidence that Amini had been beaten and subjected to torture while in the custody of Iran’s theocratic regime. The Iranian police have claimed that she had suffered a stroke and a heart attack.

Ashworth’s statement reminded Iran that “compulsory veiling is a human rights violation, and that appeals to religious morality can never be used to police women’s choices, or to invalidate their equal dignity and worth.”

Since Amini’s murder, there has been widespread protests in Iran and around the world. In Iran, crackdowns by the theocratic state has resulted in further faith-based beatings and murders.

Religious Police

At this time, seven nations have formalized and explicitly-designated religious police: Afghanistan, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia and Sudan. These are a dirty seven which should be under international scrutiny and pressure to discontinue faith-based policing – a practice that is nothing other than state violation of fundamental human rights.

HumanistFreedoms.com looks forward to observing whether Canadian (in particular) and global humanist, atheist, secularist organizations join Humanist International in a re-focus on issues of this scope and type. We feel certain that there are still many other women, girls and families who might appreciate the kind of help from the international community that might have saved Mahsa Amini’s life.

Citations, References And Other Reading

  1. Featured Photo Courtesy of: ttps://www.smh.com.au/world/acehs-religious-police-crack-down-on-tight-jeans-20100526-weap.html
  2. https://humanists.international/2022/09/at-un-humanists-international-calls-for-justice-following-murder-of-mahsa-amini/

The views, opinions and analyses expressed in the articles on Humanist Freedoms are those of the contributor(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the publishers.