Ethnic Oppression in Countries Across the World

As the world’s population continues to escalate over the course of time, there is an increase in particular social groups becoming susceptible to discrimination and opression. Ethnic oppression, or racial oppression, is discrimination in which injustice is targeted towards minorities and particular groups of indivudals, instead of being concerned with every individual in society as a whole. This unjust treatment includes the difficulties that ethnic minority groups face in terms of politics and economics. Ethnic oppression and racial discrimination have long existed ever since the past, yet it still remains as issues that has become highly prevalent in many countries, in the present day.  

Ethnic discrimination and oppression, as such, is not only unjust towards certain groups of individuals, but it also stifles global economic progress and will not disappear on its own. Two main ethnic minority populations are influenced by ethnic oppression: long-term established communities and recent minority communities. Long-term established communities are more common in Asia and Africa, where they frequently predate modern state borders by centuries. On the other hand, recent minority communities, which arrived in Europe primarily through migration in the last century, can be found in Europe: for instance, Bangladeshis in the United Kingdom. Despite how both of these groups encounter prejudice and discrimination, authorities across the world are doing too little to combat it.

India halves poverty in 10 years, says latest UN report
(Credit: DNA INDIA)

India is a country where ethnic discrimination and disparities persist. Although poverty is decreasing overall in the country, there are specific groups that experience higher rates of poverty. According to The Guardian, while poverty rates among upper caste Hindus were just 16 percent in rural regions and 8 percent in urban areas in 2012, the lower caste Adivasis and Dalits have significantly higher poverty rates. Furthermore, there is a close relationship between ethnicity and occupation, with certain jobs being seen by people as not only low-status, but also low-paying with a lot fewer benefits. In fact, being more likely, compared to other groups, to clean toilets, Dalits are less likely to cook for upper caste Hindus, and this serves as an example of ethnic discrimination. In spite of the country’s gradual attempts to put tackle discrimination as such, the efforts have not yet been adequate enough to put an end to it. The persistence of this ethnic oppression will slowly become a burden on the country’s overall economic success, posing a threat to India’s development as a whole. It can also further hinder the road to good governance in India, and hence, political representation, as well as economic policies need to address these ethnic inequities.

Conflicts in India are just one example of economic and political challenges provoked by ethnic disparity. For instance, new migrants in most developed European countries are discriminated against to work in precarious, exploitative, and deplorable conditions and for low wages. According to The Guardian, the United Kingdom has a 12% employment gap between white British and ethnic minority people. Furthermore, according to the Department for Work and Pensions, while there is a jobless rate of 45% for young black, Pakistan, and Bangladeshi workers in 2013, the jobless rate for while people is only 19%. Other European countries face comparable difficulties, such as poor wages and discrimination  towards incoming immigration. These issues would have a severe negative impact on the economy of the European countries, and will further hinder their overall social development. Employment policies and public pronouncements should be increased in order to put an end to this discrimination, in addition to ensuring that education, training, and apprenticeships are effective in eliminating ethnic inequality.

Xinjiang cotton sparks concern over 'forced labour' claims - BBC News

Moreover, a highly recent example of ethnic oppression is the incidents associated with the Xinjiang cotton in China. Hundreds of thousands of Uyghurs and other minorities are being forced to work in China’s huge cotton fields in Xinjiang’s western region. According to the BBC, these minority groups being forced to work in textile factories have already been discovered, in addition to a vast network of detention centers, where more than a million people are reported to have been detained. Despite how the Chinese government refutes the allegations, claiming that the camps are meant to alleviate poverty, it has been discovered that around half a million minority laborers are drafted into seasonal cotton picking each year, under situations that appear to pose a high danger of oppression. Dr. Adrian Zenz, a senior fellow at the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation in Washington, stated, “For the first time we not only have evidence of Uighur forced labour in manufacturing, in garment making, it’s directly about the picking of cotton, and I think that is such a game-changer.” As evidently shown, specific ethnic groups, minorities in particular, are highly vulnerable to the negative impacts of ethnic oppression in discrimination, including forced labor and a high extent of worker exploitation. 

Ethnic oppression is a major issue that all countries, both developed and developing nations, face, though in many different ways. Discrimination based on peoples’ ethnicities does not only bring a severe negative impact on the individuals themselves, but also hinders a country from achieving development by impeding economic growth and discouraging social cohesion. On top of this, ethnic oppression also obstructs a country’s road to attaining good governance and cooperation among the government, civil society, and private sector. The existence of ethnic oppression and discrimination started long ago, yet many issues associated with them have continued to increase regardless of the attempts to combat them. Therefore, more people should be aware of this major issue, as a constructive decrease in ethnic oppression plays a crucial role in enhancing global economic progress and promoting lasting development. 



Tiana Thwin

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