Countering Racism in Switzerland
Following an uptick in reports of prejudice, harassment, and discrimination over the last decade, several Swiss federal agencies and civil organizations have undertaken research to outline the prevalence and dimensions of racism, discrimination, and racial prejudice in the country, focusing on the ways in which cultural, political, and administrative practices marginalize people of color and exclude them from conceptions of Swiss national identity. Anti-black racism has emerged as a phenomenon of particular concern, ranging from everyday prejudice and harassment to discrimination in housing, employment, policing, and access to public accommodations and services. The continuing growth of Switzerland’s Afro-descendant population—having doubled over the last decade to some 100,000 people—has made countering racism a priority in the integration of new generations of residents, and experts have begun issuing recommendations including increased service provision, media representation, anti-profiling measures, and data collection.
Racism and Anti-African Sentiment in India
As Indo-African economic relations have expanded in recent years, so too have social and cultural relations between India and African nations, particularly via the growth of international student populations across the Indian Ocean. For African communities in India, this cultural exchange has come with a price: incidents of anti-African violence in recent years have both threatened the security of India’s largely university-based black communities and strained relations between India and African countries. Beyond targeted persecution, students also recount instances of everyday ignorance and racism, including references to all black Africans as “Nigerians” regardless of national origin, derogatory name-calling by strangers, and accusations of cannibalism, prostitution, and drug trafficking. Over the last few years, several media outlets have featured the experiences of African immigrants in the country, chronicling instances of discrimination, violence, and disruptions in their education.
“African victims of racism in India share their stories” (Al Jazeera | May 2017)
“African students hospitalized in roving mob attacks in India” (CNN | March 2017)
“The photographer giving Africans in India a voice” (CNN | March 2017)
“Being African in India: ‘We are seen as demons’” (Al Jazeera | June 2016)
“Their Indian horror: Africans recount everyday racism” (The Hindustan Times | October 2014)
“Africans decry ‘discrimination’ in India” (Al Jazeera | December 2013)
Association of African Students in India (AASI)
Gender pay parity law comes into effect in Iceland
- Companies and public agencies with at least 25 employees will be required to obtain government certification of equal-pay practices or face fines.
- Iceland became the first country to mandate pay equality by legislation in 2017, with the law now in effect with the arrival of the new year.
- Since 2006, Iceland has closed 10% of its pay gap—one of the fastest improvement rates in the world—and pledged to eradicate it by 2020.
“In Iceland, it’s now illegal to pay men more than women” (Al Jazeera | January 2018)
“Iceland first nation to make pay equality a legal requirement” (The New Zealand Herald | January 2018)
“Iceland set to tackle gender pay gap with world’s toughest law” (BBC News | March 2017)
The Global Gender Gap Report 2017 (World Economic Forum)
French hospital dismisses Egyptian trainee doctor from program for beard
- The administrative court of appeals ruled in favor of the hospital after the surgery trainee sued as the result of termination by hospital managers at a Saint-Denis hospital for failing to trim his beard.
- The trainee’s lawyer argued that the termination was discriminatory as a similarly long beard worn by someone who wasn’t Egyptian and named “Mohamed” would likely not have been asked to prove it was not of religious orientation.
- French law dictates that religious expression is forbidden in state institutions like public hospitals, including personal symbolic displays that could be construed as religiously motivated.
“Un médecin renvoyé pour une barbe trop longue, la justice donne raison à l’hôpital” (Agence France-Presse, via Libération | December 2017 – in French)
“‘C’est une décision complètement discriminatoire’ : un médecin stagiaire renvoyé à cause d’une barbe trop longue” (franceinfo | December 2017 – in French)
“French hospital rejects trainee doctor due to ‘religious’ beard” (The Telegraph | January 2018)
Discussions of systemic racism in France provoke backlash
- Recent rows in French government and civil society have pitted anti-racism activists against government officials over discussions of the state and other political institutions’ role in propagating racial inequality.
- Journalist Rokhaya Diallo was removed from France’s national digital council only a week after her appointment following a campaign by right-wing activists and officials that targeted her for, among other things, her discussions of “institutional racism.”
- The same use of the term by the teachers union SUD-Education 93 led Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer to indicate he will pursue complaints against the organization as well as for having hosted workshops reserved for people of color.
“French race row erupts as feminist forced off advisory body” (The Guardian | December 2017)
“Blanquer porte plainte contre un syndicat qui a utilisé l’expression «racisme d’Etat»” (Le Monde | November 2017, in French)
“Les ateliers « en non-mixité raciale » du syndicat SUD-Education 93 créent une polémique” (Le Monde | November 2017, in French)
“When will France admit that police racism is systemic?” (The Guardian | March 2017)
The Administrative Precarity of Syrian Refugees in Lebanon
Syrians who have fled to Lebanon to escape the violence that has embroiled their home nation have begun putting down new roots while waiting for the conflict to end. However, cultural and administrative differences have left many Syrians in limbo as practices surrounding institutions like marriage remain unrecognized in their new, if temporary, home. Lebanon’s complex and financially taxing requirements of civil registration (including residency, marriage, and births) has disenfranchised many Syrians, leaving them in legally precarious situations even as the government works to lessen the burdens.
Undocumented children are denied access to IDs and passports, and parents and other couples lacking official work permits find themselves trapped in exploitative labor conditions to support their families. The financial vulnerability of Syrian families is driving intergenerational insecurity, particularly as it has led to an increase in child marriage rates in the country. Reuters examines the complex bureaucratic and cultural conditions shaping the marginalization of Syrian families in Lebanon.
“As Syrian couples say ‘I do,’ Lebanon says ‘No, not quite’” (Reuters | December 2017)
“For Syrian refugees, child marriage robs a generation of its future” (The Globe and Mail | March 2017)
South African president announces free higher education for poor and working-class students
- The change affects students from households making up to 350,000 South African rand (~USD26,715) enrolled in the country’s TVET (Technical Vocational Educational and Training) colleges.
- President Jacob Zuma has pledged to implement the shift from loan- to grant-based subsidies in a “fiscally responsible manner,” with aid to higher education institutions set to increase from 0.7% to 1% of GDP over the next five years.
- Critics continued to question the financing for such a sweeping initiative, with the finance minister indicating details will be deferred to the 2018 budget unveiling in February.
“Zuma announces free higher education for poor and working class students” (News24 | December 2017)
“Gigaba: How government will fund free education to be clarified at 2018 budget” (The Mail & Guardian | December 2017)
“Zuma says South Africa’s free higher education to be done in a fiscally sustainable manner” (Reuters | December 2017)