Today, we live in a global village. People are constantly crossing borders and settling down in foreign lands, and carving out a niche for themselves in unknown places. More and more nations are becoming multicultural thanks to the constant influx of people from other societies. All genders and races are making great strides and contributing equally to society. Yet, surprisingly enough, discrimination remains a highly topical issue. Discrimination against people on one basis or another is constantly on the rise even though a wide range of people fight against it on a regular basis. According to the UN, it is unfair and unethical for anyone to discriminate against anyone else; yet, this seems a problem that is as difficult to eradicate as it is to understand.
Discrimination takes many forms. The commonest, of course, is cultural, followed closely by gender and sexual orientation.
Cultural: Ethnic discrimination, commonly known as racism, is a widely prevalent practice in every part of the world. Multicultural nations are most commonly affected by this evil; the ethnic group comprising the majority often happens to deride and discriminate against the minority groups. In inherently multicultural nations, we find this expressed as xenophobia, where locals of a particular region discriminate against the migrants belonging to a different ethnicity.
Religious: Religious discrimination is again another widely prevalent practice. The highly misplaced belief of the superiority of one religion over the others is to be primarily blamed for this. There are numerous instances of religious discrimination happening all over the world today, with several incidents escalating to mindless violence.
Gender: Gender discrimination is discrimination that is practiced on the basis of gender. Although the focus of this discrimination seems to be women, let there be no doubts about the fact that sexual discrimination extends to all genders. Too many people across the world hold different genders beneath their plane of existence, and this spills over to everyday life. Women are notoriously paid less in the workplace, and transgender and gender fluid people are still significantly underrepresented in mainstream society.
Sexual orientation: This is yet another mindless ground for discrimination in the world today. Too many people are known to discriminate against people who do not follow the so called mainstream heterosexuality. Homosexuals, bisexuals, and pansexuals are often regarded with as much contempt as asexual. It is not uncommon for people of alternate sexualities to be harassed at the workplace, in educational institutions, and even within their own families. In most cases, this kind of discrimination leads to social ostracism, professional regression, and plain bullying.
Workplace discrimination: Discrimination of many kinds is seen in many forms and situations. Workplace discrimination is a highly debated issue in current times, and something that even celebrities have spoken up against. Many women- and men- in high places have recently become vocal about the blatant and not so blatant sexism that they face in their professional spheres, irrespective in the industry they belong to. The concept of a glass ceiling remains sadly real even today, when women are making great strides alongside men in every walk of life.
Dealing with discrimination
Being the brunt of discrimination is never easy, and it is likely that most of us have been discriminated against in some way or another at some point in our lives. It may have been because we were the quiet one in a classroom full of boisterous children. It may have been because we dressed differently in school. Or it may simply be because we were born with physical traits that were different from the majority. Whatever the situation, it is important to understand that we are never alone in this. Staying quiet in the face of discrimination does not shield us from further harassment, but only emboldens the harasser. It is necessary to speak up, and report the discrimination we are facing.
Needless to say, the reason behind any kind of discrimination is evidently the lack of understanding. Most people feel a fear and sense of discomfort with the unknown, and it is human instinct to attempt to deny what is difficult to understand or outside of their comfort zone. Many people tend to mock or overly sympathize with specially abled people, and both are equally discriminatory acts, albeit with distinctly different motives. Public education plays a very important role here in making people understand that such small differences are indeed very tiny in the scope of life, and governments need to step up their game in bridging this distance by actively including people from different walks of life into the spectrum of mainstream society.