“Oppression”, by definition, is a prolonged cruel or unjust treatment or exercise of authority. We have often read this word when studying about topics such as racism, human rights, slavery, etc. That is because, Oppression was exercised at a large-scale at that time. Unfortunately, that does not mean that the practice is absent from today’s world.
We have read speeches in our history books wherein prominent leaders often talked about getting rid of oppression and drafting laws for upliftment of the weaker sections of society. Still, the inhuman practice prevails in the modern society. It is often ignored, intentionally or unintentionally, and is more than often practiced by people who hold powerful authoritative positions.
Women, specific religions, communities, and other marginalised communities are the most common targets of this practice. These section face oppression in their everyday lives and are mostly forced to live through it due to inherent racism, corruption, and discrimination. Suppose, an African-American person has been mugged in the United States, he/she would go to the nearest police station. By law, the police are obliged to help the individual by tracking and arresting the suspect. However, that is not the case, people who belong to marginalised communities are not taken seriously. It is highly likely that the individual would be discriminated against and the statements made by him/her would be scoffed at, at maximum.
This is the bitter truth of this social evil that exists, not only in the States, but all over the world.
Hate crimes against Indians have been rising in Australia, against Blacks in America, against immigrants in East Asian countries, among countless others. The question is, when will it all finally end? This question has been dodged by political identities. After making claims to assist and uplift the oppressed, persons of authority do not actually take feasible steps to eradicate oppression, or, if they do, these steps fail.
A common example of oppression (and racism) is shooting Black suspects (or even non-suspects) in the United States. There are numerous such cases reported every single day, wherein a White cop would shoot a Black citizen, without reason. Many of the times, the suspect would be unarmed and innocent. It was due to the rise in such crimes, that the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement was initiated. The movement aims to move political authorities and to urge them to take strict action against such crimes and take necessary measures to prevent the same.
Moving further, it is not just the Black community that is targeted and such incidents don’t only occur in (or in countries similar to) the United States. Such incidents have happened in India as well, wherein, a political leader has displayed favoritism towards an event of one religion whilst largely criticising a similar event of another religion. This is with respect to the pandemic where one event was not only allowed to be held, but also inaugurated by the said political figure. Whereas, the other religion’s gathering was criminalised.
Oppression has its roots dug in deep in most countries. People discriminate against such communities and may even specifically target them. No matter how progressive or friendly certain countries, cities, or communities show themselves to be, there is still a high possibility that they have inherited a certain amount of hatred for specific groups.
This issue has made it all the more difficult for citizens that plan to settle in a country other than their birth country. As mentioned above, there has been a rise in the amount of hate crimes against Indians in Australia. There was a recent incident where a 21-year-old female of Indian descent was murdered near the city of Adelaide.
This does not mean that Indians must not go to specific countries or that people belonging to specific places and cultures target Indians. It simply shows how, even in the 21st century, we, as a community have failed to get rid of this evil. People from different cultures are alienated due to their religious practices, culture, or even the color of their skin or other attributes related to their physical appearance. It is truly a shame that, people have to have that element of fear within themselves that has been birthed due to centuries of oppression.
It is even worse that a certain sex is targeted. This activity is not restricted to the stages of development of countries, whether it be third-world, developing, or developed countries, women are discriminated against very commonly. Women have to face mistreatment in their academics, profession, and even at home. They are often undermined and oppressed, this sucks the potential out of them and restricts them to roles that are menial in relation to what their true capabilities might entail.
This is especially true in the Indian scenario. The ages old patriarchy has limited women to take up only home-related responsibilities. Women who would attempt to break through this barrier of oppression would be ostracised and made fun of, for being different. But these are the same women who would soon become revolutionary scientists, entrepreneurs, engineers, lawyers, and what not. It is the society and the society only that has placed such shackles around their throats. Women who break free from these shackles become an inspiration for others who are still facing oppression.
An inspiring example of women in entrepreneurship is Kiran Mazumdar Shaw. She is the Founder and Chairperson of Biocon Limited. She broke through the traditions and pursued her higher education, graduating from university at the top of her class, that too, being the only woman in her course. Post that, she wanted to enter the field of Biotechnology, a foreign area as nobody at the time was aware of it. However, she pushed through the discrimination, oppression, and the derogatory remarks and proudly holds many national and international awards and owns a billion-dollar company.
In conclusion, Oppression is faced by several communities all over the globe. Whether it be women, blacks, Muslims, or any other community that faces oppression, it is the duty of current and future policy makers to put an end to the dehumanising practice, once and for all. Political leaders should implement policies that would encourage inclusion. However, we shall all contribute to create an environment that encourages growth of each and every individual, irrespective of their physical, cultural, religious, or any other differences. We shall be kind to all individuals as many of them have to fight this practice in their daily lives.
WRITTEN BY : Sawan Oberai