Posted on June 21, 2021 · Posted in General, Memo Plus Gold, Personal

Discrimination strikes at the very heart of being human. It is harming someone’s rights simply because of who they are or what they believe. Discrimination is harmful and perpetuates inequality.

We all have the right to be treated equally, regardless of our race, ethnicity, nationality, class, caste, religion, belief, sex, gender, language, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, health or other status. Yet all too often we hear heartbreaking stories of people who suffer cruelty simply for belonging to a “different” group from those in positions of privilege or power. Discrimination occurs when a person is unable to enjoy his or her human rights or other legal rights on an equal basis with others because of an unjustified distinction made in policy, law or treatment.


Racial and ethnic discrimination.

Racism affects virtually every country in the world. It systematically denies people their full human rights just because of their colour, race, ethnicity, descent (including caste) or national origin. Racism unchecked can fuel large-scale atrocities such as the 1994 genocide in Rwanda and more recently, the ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya people in Myanmar.

In India, members of the Dalit community are targeted, by members of dominant castes, for a range of human rights abuses. These crimes, which include gang rapes, killings and the destruction of their homes, often go un-investigated by the police because of discriminatory attitudes which do not take crimes against Dalits seriously.

Discrimination against non-nationals, sometimes known as xenophobia.

Discrimination against non-nationals is frequently based on racism or notions of superiority, and is often fueled by politicians looking for scapegoats for social or economic problems in a country.

Since 2008, South Africa has experienced several outbreaks of violence against refugees, asylum seekers and migrants from other African countries, including killings, and looting or burning of shops and businesses. In some instances, the violence has been inflamed by the hate-filled rhetoric of politicians who have wrongly labelled foreign nationals as “criminals” and accused them of burdening the health system.

Discrimination has also been a feature of the response of authorities to refugees and asylum seekers in other parts of the world. Many people in countries receiving refugees and asylum-seekers view the situation as a crisis with leaders and politicians exploiting these fears by promising, and in some cases enacting, abusive and unlawful policies.

For example, Hungary passed a package of punitive laws in 2018, which target groups that the government has identified as supporting refugees and migrants. The authorities have also subjected refugees and asylum seekers to violent push-backs and ill-treatment and imposed arbitrary detention on those attempting to enter Hungarian territory.

Discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people.

Everywhere in the world, people face discrimination because of who they love, who they are attracted to and who they are. Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people risk being unfairly treated in all areas of their lives, whether it is in education, employment, housing or access to health care, and they may face harassment and violence. Some countries punish people for their sexual orientation or their gender identity with jail or even death.

Gender discrimination.

In many countries, in all regions of the world, laws, policies, customs and beliefs exist that deny women and girls their rights. By law, women cannot dress as they like or work at night or take out a loan without their husband’s signature. In many countries, discriminatory laws place limits on a woman’s right to divorce, own property, exercise control over her own body and enjoy protection from harassment.

In the ongoing battle for justice, hundreds of thousands of women and girls took to the streets to claim their human rights and demand gender equality. In the USA, Europe and Japan, women protested against misogyny and abuse as part of the #MeToo marches. In Argentina, Ireland and Poland, women demonstrated to demand a stop to oppressive abortion laws. In Saudi Arabia, they called for an end to the driving ban.

All over the world, women and girls have been at the forefront of demands for change. Yet despite the stratospheric rise of women’s activism, the stark reality remains that many governments around the world openly support policies, laws and customs that subjugate and suppress women.

Globally, forty percent of women of childbearing age live in countries where abortion remains highly restricted or inaccessible in practice even when allowed by law, and some 225 million do not have access to modern contraception.

However, social media has given more prominence in some parts of the world to women’s calls for equality in the workplace, an issue highlighted in the calls to narrow the gender pay gap, currently standing at around 23% globally. Women worldwide are not only paid less, on average, than men, but are more likely to do unpaid work and to work in informal, insecure and unskilled jobs. Much of this is due to social norms that consider women and their work to be of lower status.

Gender-based violence disproportionately affects women; yet it remains a human rights crisis that politicians continue to ignore.

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