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March 16, 2023
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Is discrimination ever justified?

Basic Facts

Discrimination refers to the act of treating a person or a group of people in an unfair or prejudiced manner from others. Discrimination can be perpetuated by one person, a group or even governments. Discrimination exists at multiple levels withing the society. Instances of discrimination can be seen in areas like education, healthcare, or even the workplace

Discrimination in all its forms is deeply concerning because as it is prejudice based on concepts of identity and a sense of belongingness to a certain group. Discrimination can lead to barriers within the society and perpetuate hatred and dehumanization of other people because they are different.

There are discriminatory practices and laws that exist in some form all across the world. For example in the United States, discrimination exists in the criminal justice system,where Black Americans are subjected to racial profiling in the investigation of crimes. Similarly, United Nations (UN) cited that the new citizenship law passed in India in 2020 was discriminatory to Muslims.

Discrimination can be direct and can also exist in subtle forms. Explicit distinction is made between groups of people that results in one group to be deprived of their rights. Maternity laws can be an instance of direct discrimination where women lose jobs and privileges because of being pregnant while the men do not face any such issue.

Laws, policies, or practice can be subtle forms of discrimination. Where these laws can disproportionately disadvantage a specific group or groups. For example, an employer creates a policy that only Mandarin speaking people are required for the job could indirectly discriminate against people from certain ethnic groups, particularly so when Mandarin is not required to perform the job.

Discrimination has been perpetuated against people in various forms against certain groups. Racial discrimination is one of the most widespread social, cultural and religious issues and has been used to commit some of the greatest atrocities in history. For instance, the holocaust in Europe and Apartheid laws that were present in South Africa were based on racist ideas.

Religious discrimination involves alienating people based on their religious beliefs. In India for example, Christians have decried discrimination against them following spates of church attacks in 2014. In Australia, Muslims have been on the receiving end due to anti-Muslim sentiments largely driven by Islamophobia.

Gender based discrimination that has to a large extent been against women and girls. In many countries, many women still do not receive equal

payment for the same amount of work done. In China, the one child policy has seen a large number of female fetuses being aborted in favour of male ones. The same has also seen the abandonment of female children.

Discrimination based on a socio-cultural system is most noteworthy under the Indian Caste system. People from lower class known as dalits have been discriminated against historically. While India has made tremendous change over the last three decades, caste discrimination still exists in the rural areas and in traditional settings.

Discrimination based on disability is another form of discrimination. In many societies, people with disabilities are stigmatised, ostracised and treated as objects of pity or fear. For example, in countries like Kazakhstan, current laws mean that people with mental disabilities are declared “incapable” by law and have been coerced into living life of dependency.

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