Human rights competition honours for Perse students

Joely Harrison (left) and Izzy Bevens

Izzy Bevens and Joely Harrison (both Lower Sixth) have enjoyed success in the HART Prize for Human Rights.

The competition, held by the Humanitarian Aid Relief Trust (HART), challenged young people to examine and engage critically with human rights issues related to any of the countries in which the organisation works.

Izzy came third in the intermediate category (for ages 15-18) of the creative competition, while Joely was highly commended in the same section of the essay prize.

For her entry, Izzy filmed a short monologue contrasting the treatment and attitudes towards HIV carriers in Uganda and the UK from the first-person perspective of a young woman with the virus in each country.

She said she discovered HART from reading influential feminist geography book Half the Sky: How to Change the World by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn.

A regular actor in Perse productions, Izzy said: “I saw they had a creative competition, so I thought I could incorporate drama into it.

“I had the idea after watching Rent and Tick, Tick… Boom!, which both have themes around HIV.

“It’s a hard-hitting subject and you can see how attitudes have changed in countries like the USA and the UK since the 1980s and 1990s. However, I did some research on what’s it’s like now for a person In Uganda with HIV and there is still a lot of discrimination and stigma around it.

“I wrote a script and although I used some facts and figures, I wanted to talk as if I was real person with HIV living in Uganda and then London.

“It was only one-and-a-half minutes long, but I didn’t want to ramble on. I wanted to get my points across and have the most impact I could.”

Izzy was surprised to take third place, but was thrilled with her success and what she had gained from the experience.

She said: “I’m over the moon. There was an online ceremony and there was a bit of screaming from my mum and sister!

“I just didn’t expect it. I entered for the sake of gaining more knowledge in that area and I wanted to show that young people are interested and do care about issues that are happening thousands of miles away.”

Meanwhile, Joely focused on the ongoing persecution of the Rohingya people in Myanmar for her project.

Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims fled to Bangladesh in 2017 following a crackdown by the government of the predominantly Buddhist country.

Joely’s entry took the form of a letter appealing to Prime Minister Boris Johnson for the UK to intervene in the situation.

She said: “I felt like this issue wasn’t in the news enough. No-one was noticing what was happening to these people and their schools have even been bombed by the Myanmar army.

“I just feel the UK has a responsibility to get involved, even though Myanmar isn’t part of the British Empire or Commonwealth anymore, because it’s such a horrible situation.”

Joely enjoyed carrying out the research and was pleased her work had been acknowledged by the competition judges.

She said: “I really like writing essays and going outside my subject, so It was nice to hear I’d been highly commended.

“I want to be a lawyer, especially involved in human rights and climate change, as I just think these are important issues we face at the moment.”


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