The aim of the Benenson Society is to provide students with the opportunity to be involved in the promotion of human rights through the raising of awareness of violations of these rights and by lobbying governments on behalf of prisoners of conscience ,asserting the rights of all to basic freedoms. The Society is open to all years but especially Year 9 and above. Parental permission is sought before pupils can be allowed to sign letters. St. Joseph’s has the honour of being the very first Benenson Society set up in a school in England (founded here Christmas 2007).
We meet every week and for each campaign we have a slide show describing the case and examining the issues involved. Pupils are encouraged to make up their own minds about whether we should support a certain person or cause. We have already supported many campaigns and sent scores of polite but firm protest letters, in union with all the other Benenson Societies around the world.
Two of our campaigns have focused on the plight of children. We looked at the case for and against child labour, we all agreed that child labour is wrong whatever the arguments for keeping it. We focused our campaign on the long hours and terrible working conditions for children as young as nine working in the clothing industry in developing nations. These sweat shops supply well known high street chains in the U.K. We sent letters to the relevant Ambassador urging that the human rights of children be respected.
Another campaign was about street children in Latin America where orphaned street children are often physically abused by police. Businesses, shops and ordinary people have a tendency to see them as ‘not like us’ and turn a blind eye to their suffering, wishing they would just go away. We decided to give these children a voice and sent many letters of protest to the relevant Ambassador.
This group is for anyone who feels passionately that people should be treated fairly and are willing to take peaceful action to protect the weak and voiceless.