The core idea of a clean and healthy environment is that all people are entitled to live in a healthy, clean, and safe environment. Protection of the Right to life through a clean and healthy environment, clean water, food, and air is a fundamental right granted by article 9 of the 1973 constitution of Pakistan, which is the result of the judicial interpretation where life means all necessities of life. The right to the environment play an important role in the greening of rights and ensure better environmental protection of natural resources, protection of species, and peaceful enjoyment of life and property.
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HOW CLEAN AND HEALTHY ENVIRONMENT PROTECT RIGHT TO LIFE AND REDUCE VIOLENT CRIMES?
• Using Nature to Protect ‘Right to Life’
The connection between human life and the environment is indisputable. Human survival does not possible without a clean and healthy environment. Every human being has the inherent right to life, including clean air, water, a safe environment, shelter, and food. To live in a clean and healthy environment is a basic human right and the violation of this will be considered a violation of the fundamental right to life itself. Article 9 of the 1973 Constitution of Pakistan provides us with fundamental things and rights like Air, water, food, and shelter which are very important for our well-being.
Article 9 states:
“No person shall be deprived of his life”
This constitutional provision ensures access to a clean and healthy environment, water, air, food, and shelter as necessities of all living life on the planet. Therefore a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment is not only an essential aspect of the human right to life but also essential for other living creatures including animals and nature itself. Therefore the violation of a clean and healthy environment is a violation of the right to life of all living creatures because the earth was created by God for all life, not just for human life.
• Using nature for the Reduction of Violent Crimes
Nature has the power to heal human hearts and prevent violence. Clean Air, green space, healthy food, safe water, sanitation, and a safe working place, enhance people’s quality of life, reduce mortality, morbidity, and crimes, improve lifestyles, and productivity of workers, and improve mental peace. Nature and green spaces have a huge positive impact on the physical and mental well-being of individuals. It provides us healthy and productive life by giving us air to breathe, fresh water to drink, healthy food to eat, and herbs to curve us in diseases. It is a healthy and safe environment that ensures the right to life for all by reducing stress levels. On the other hand, the polluted and unclean environment and climate not only endangered the life of human beings and animals but also the lives of future generations. Such an environment increases anxiety and depression and leads to drug abuse, aggression, violence and increases the risk of security, and makes the existence of life difficult. For example, environmental pollution including air pollution contributes to behavioral problems and aggression which can lead to a rise in criminal behavior. The study concluded that areas with higher levels of pollution had a higher level of crime. Crime such as pickpocketing, snatching, and robbery.
A physical environment with unhealthy air, water, and climate directly or indirectly fueled crime and violence. Environment influences the behavior and mindsets of people. A polluted environment always causes aggressive behavior, eventually leading to criminal behavior. The study suggested that the presence of clean and safe spaces with lighting, painted sidewalks, and parks reduce the chances of homicide. Therefore Respect and Closeness of everyone with nature, fresh air, and the pleasant smell and atmosphere promotes a peaceful and healthy lifestyle and community. Whereas dumping areas, limited greenery, odd smells, and noise contributes to criminal behavior. In Pakistan women especially are seen in distress due to climate-induced conflicts. Conditions like flash floods and heat waves tend to increase the risk of crimes like domestic violence and physical harassment of women. Also, the changing temperature led women to go in search of water, food, and wood fire and hence leading to security and privacy issue. Climate change also fuelled a weak economy, poor governance, and social inequality and breed civil war among people causing food, water, and human insecurity and breaking out violence as people fight for control of life-sustaining resources.
GO GREEN AND CLEAN STRATEGY TO PREVENT VIOLENT CRIMES
Violent crimes can be prevented by improving the Physical environment like greening vacant lots, buildings, streets, and parks. Static shows that Green space filled with trees and greenery strengthens mental health and reduces aggression, violence, and crime. There is a strong relationship between higher quality of the environment and a lower level of crime. In Pakistan, there are crimes taking place due to the poor quality of the environment like theft, snatching, prostitution, assault, and drugs abuses. Changing the natural environment lets people commit crimes. In places where there is plastic dumping, people go less there, due to which such places become a hub for criminals which increases the danger of rape, trafficking, drugs, smuggling, etc. such polluted places are used for criminal activities. Hence dirty and polluted places are the main causes of criminal activities with poor lighting and greening spaces. It is our legal responsibility to keep our environment tidy and clean for a safe, clean, and peaceful environment and communities. Lighting and greening space can help to reduce a city’s crime rate including domestic violence-related and more serious crimes such as homicides, crimes that are sometimes related to domestic violence.
Hence, it is concluded that, the clean and green spaces protect and promote the environment by improving the right to life and well-being of all individuals and preserving many plants and animal species. Closeness, respect, and unity with nature can help, heal and protect us. Reducing pollution and changing human behavior could keep people safe, reduce crime and promote a better quality of life. Access to nature improves public safety and security and mitigates the impact of violence because green space and natural areas have a mitigation impact.
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This article was contributed by Nosheen Jahan. Nosheen is an undergraduate law student at Kinnaird College for Woman University Lahore. She is a passionate campaigner and working for Animals rights protection and Environmental Rights Protection in Pakistan. Her mission is to build people’s power in vulnerable communities to achieve environmental health and justice by preventing and reducing pollution and building green, healthy, sustainable and peaceful communities and environments. She has been a former Legal Intern at Pakistan Center of Legal Research and Publication (PCLRP). Her work has been published by PCL Student Journal of Law. She has been also recognized as a UNLEASH Talent for her contributions to SDG 13, SDG 14 and SDG 15. Her area of interest includes: Environmental justice, Human Rights, Gender Issues in Law, Animal jurisprudence, Constitutional law, Climate Justice and International law.
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