- Politics and Social Issues
Groups of People Who Cannot Get a Break
Albinism (LINK 1) is a genetic condition where individuals have little or no pigment in their eyes, skin or hair and individuals with the condition are generally referred to as albinos. Albinos are normally faced with vision problems and have to be careful around the sun since they tend to be sensitive to ultraviolet rays. Well even with all these complications you would think that people would just give them a break. Well, wrong!
Well in some countries Albinos’ body parts are highly sought after in the witchcraft trade. Nowhere is this trade more active than in the heart of East Africa, specifically Tanzania, where Albinos both adults and children are blatantly butchered. A report found that "in most of the cases documented, the attacks involved dismembering the victim's limbs and resulted in death”.
The practice stems from the belief that their body parts bring good luck. Albinos, especially albino Africans live in constant fear and attempts by the governments to protect them by educating the masses are bearing little to no fruit since the attacks on Albinos keep on growing.
Virgins have always had a special place in most cultures, folklore and even witchcraft. They are often valued for their purity and perceived magical powers. But gone are the days when virgins had to be gifted to an important figure for marriage or be sacrificed to appease one of the many deities. People are more civil nowadays, right?
Wrong again! The Virgin trade is alive and kicking where clients mostly from Cambodia, China, Singapore and Vietnam are willing to pay top dollar for a virgin. This has resulted in kidnappings, molestation of young girls and in some cases the parents are complicit and willingly give their daughters away to the highest bidder.
The practice stems from the many superstitions surrounding virginity, “Many Asian men, especially those over 50, believe sex with virgins gives them magical powers to stay young and ward off illness”. And with poverty levels on the rise in many of these regions, it has only fuelled the trade it making it a way of earning easy currency.
On any given day am sure you can hear a really great punch line about redheads and you’ll laugh and why not, after all its harmless teasing. Yesterday’s superstition has become today’s teasing. Redheads are believed to be evil in many cultures with them being equated to witches and vampires, the devil’s children and are believed to be born during a woman’s menstruation (often associated with uncleanliness). They were also considered to be ethically inferior in the anti-Irish era.
Well it turns out every single day a redhead is exposed to an immense number of insults, abuse and sometimes physical abuse. And it does not end with the adults alone; children have a tougher time in school where they become targets of bullies.
Although discrimination against redheads has raised controversy with its equation to racism it’s still an issue that needs to be addressed before things spin out of control. One person who knows the full impact of such discrimination is a 20-year-old red head man who was stabbed by two strangers after an altercation regarding the color of his hair.
Obesity is one of the many modern day afflictions ravaging the world and with obesity cases on the rise there has also been a change of perceptions on how we treat and view obese people. Many obese individuals are already struggling with the health complications arising from their weight and having to deal with discrimination and hate at every corner does not help the situation at all.
A recent poll found that obese Americans often face discrimination at work, social gatherings, when applying for a job or promotions and they even earn less. Somehow we have made it socially acceptable to discriminate against overweight individuals and see nothing wrong with it.
Our obsession with trying to live up to certain standards of beauty has made us turn against fat people and to make it worse its now turning towards violence. Such is the case with Marsha Coupe a 53 year old business woman who was viciously attacked and abused on a train carriage. This just goes to show we are not as tolerant as we would like to think!
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT)
While much of Europe and America are seeking to embrace the LGBT community and has made great strides in recognizing their rights, in some parts of the world it is an extremely dangerous affair to admit your ‘non-traditional’ sexual nature even to family members.
Most Middle Eastern countries have strict laws which forbid LGBT activities and if an individual is even suspected of being gay, let alone caught, it usually means a death penalty. And nowhere is this hate more intense than in Iraq. With the help of honor killings and militia force co-ordinated anti-gay campaigns, attacks are on the rise and have resulted in the deaths of hundreds of Iraqi gay men.
Africa is no different as the continent has plunged into an era of anti-gay sentiment. Thirty-seven countries have already placed harsh laws for the act of homosexuality, whose penalty can earn a death sentence or life imprisonment. The latest country to pass such a law is Uganda despite pleas from the international community and local human rights groups.
Mentally Ill Patients
Mental illness is a serious medical condition and dealing with the ailment is a lifetime struggle for both the affected individuals and their families. In the developing world the disease is managed expertly and individuals only have to worry about disclosing their illness at work which is still considered a taboo.
However in other parts of the world the treatment is inhumane. Somalia’s mentally ill individuals are often locked up in cages with hyenas. The use of hyenas to treat mental illness stems from the belief mentally ill patients are possessed by evil spirits therefore the hyena’s howls can chase ways the spirits. They are also chained to trees or homes to restrain them as well.
Another devastating example is the treatment of Ghana Mental Hospital Patients. The psychiatric hospitals and ‘healing centers’ are overcrowded, in pathetic conditions and have been known to abuse patients by tying them to trees under the scorching sun while denying them water. On any single day patients are faced with physical and verbal abuse, as well as unauthorized electroshock therapy.
Pyhsically Disabled Children
In many parts of the world disabled children are often neglected and in addition to this a recently conducted review found that disabled children “are 3.7 times more likely than non-disabled children to be victims of any sort of violence, 3.6 times more likely to be victims of physical violence, and 2.9 times more likely to be victims of sexual violence”.
The situation is even grimmer in Pakistan where disabled children are highly sought after by kidnappers. Once captured the children are shaved and tattooed making them unrecognizable to their parents. The children are then placed outside shrines and forced to beg for the ‘begging mafias’ with the most severely disfigured earning the most money from generous strangers.
However in areas such as Bangladesh, kidnappers often target non-disabled children and are then maimed before being put to work as beggars. A recently arrested suspect revealed how they abducted, confined and starved these children. Once they were ready to start begging they were usually sent out alone or accompanied by a woman posing as their mother.
The Uncontacted Tribes of the Amazon Forest
The uncontacted tribes of the Amazon Forest are a group of Indians who live in isolation oblivious to the advances and developments of the surrounding world. The Indians are believed to be descendants of the rubber boom Indian slaves. Those slaves who escaped or survived are what make up today's Amazon isolated groups.
The groups just want to be left alone as they have been known to shoot arrows at outsiders and airplanes or by going deeper into the forest where it’s much harder to track them. Despite their wishes to be left alone they still continue to be pestered by curious outsiders, in fact recent photos of an isolated tribe caused an uproar from various quarters.
The uncontacted tribes are under several threats. Isolated tribes do not have the same type of immunity as other people therefore upon contact with outsiders they are usually wiped out by diseases such as influenza, pneumonia and measles. They are also systematically killed by loggers and ranchers who have encroached into parts of the Amazon forest for financial reasons.t
As much we might hate to admit or even imagine at some point we all become old. So it’s very disturbing that the elderly have become targets specifically because of their age. In the developed world elder abuse usually stems from neglect or verbal and physical abuse.
A report by Age UK found that there is a steady rise in abuse reports among the elderly. The report found that “38% of the alleged abuse took place in the older person's home, while 45% took place in a care home. In addition to this 6% of cases the alleged abuser was the older person's partner, in 16% it was another family member and in 37% a social care worker”.
In other parts of the world the situation is worse as is the case in Kenya where the elderly are often the targets of witch-hunts by superstitious mobs. Dozens of elders have been killed for being suspected as witches. The witch hunts are the result of a deeply superstitious community who believe that every ailment or disaster that befalls them is the work of sorcery.
For over 5000 years dwarves have been the butt of the joke. They were often enslaved at the courts of the royals, the homes of noble and affluent individuals, and even traded as gifts. Their sole purpose was to either wait on their masters or provide entertainment.
It’s this sort of portrayal that has seeped into the modern-day culture where short statured individuals cannot be taken seriously. It even led to a football player setting alight Blake Johnson, a self-described “dwarf entertainer”. Even the manner in which the case is being handled is a total joke.
Well the dwarves have had enough and are now looking to end the discrimination. In a bizarre twist 120 short statured people in China set up their own village to escape discrimination and bullying. The village has since been turned into a “theme park” with the residents living in mushroom shaped houses and dressing up as fairy tale characters which now attract tourists from all corners of the world. The move has, however, sparked widespread criticism many terming it as a throwback into the medieval times.