Benefit of gender discrimination

Discrimination - What Does It Mean?

What is Discrimination?

The word discrimination comes from Latin and translates as "distinction". Discrimination describes the different treatment of people. The disadvantage of people can be based on various characteristics. People are particularly often discriminated against because of their gender, skin color, origin, religion or age. There is usually a group of people who are discriminated against and a group of people who benefit from it.

How does discrimination work

Discrimination is mostly based on prejudice. Prejudices are assumptions that one has about a certain group of people, usually without even knowing the people. It is quite normal for people to have prejudices. But it is important to know that these are often not right, and certainly not for a whole group. For this it is also necessary to recognize which prejudices one actually has. Prejudice is used to justify why some people should be treated better or worse than others. But that's wrong! Because every person is unique and should not be put in a group and discriminated against on the basis of any personal characteristic.

Why are people discriminated against?

There are different forms of discrimination. We would like to introduce some of them to you in more detail below.

... based on gender

Discrimination based on gender is often referred to as sexism. This comes from the English word "sex" which means gender. Sexism is, for example, when women or girls are treated differently than men or boys (usually worse) just because they are female. Discrimination based on gender is actually prohibited by law in Germany. Because since 1958 it has been in the Basic Law that women have the same rights as men. In reality, women and girls are still disadvantaged - also in Germany. Women usually receive less recognition and a lower salary than men for their work.

... based on ethnic origin and culture

When people are discriminated against on the basis of their ethnic origin and culture, one speaks of racism. Racism is based on the assumption that people can be divided into different “races” based on their origins or skin color, which are better or worse. But that's not true, because it has been biologically proven that there are no human races. Because all people are fundamentally the same in their genes (genetic material). Unfortunately, many people in Germany are still discriminated against because of their ethnic origin, skin color or culture. For example, they have a harder time finding a place to live or work, and some people even attack them with words or violence.

... because of religion

There is officially freedom of religion in Germany. This means that people have the right to choose the religion they want and are allowed to live it out. Nevertheless, some people in Germany are discriminated against because of their religion. Followers of Islam are particularly affected by this. They often have difficulties obtaining a permit to build mosques and often experience prejudice and distrust from other people.

… because of the age

When it comes to age discrimination, there are two different groups that experience discrimination - “young” people and “old” people. So people have to be told again and again that they are “too young” or “too old” for something. Such statements are based, among other things, on the prejudice that young people still have too little experience or that old people are no longer flexible. In Germany, however, it is forbidden by law to discriminate against people on the basis of their age. However, older people often have a harder time finding work and the opinions of children and young people are often not taken seriously.

... because of sexual orientation

Homophobia is often used when people are discriminated against on the basis of their sexual orientation. "Homophobia" means fear or aversion towards homosexuals. For example, homosexuals are men who love men (gays) or women who love women (lesbians). Many people think that homosexuality is a disease or mental disorder and consider it a bad thing. That is of course not correct! Unfortunately, homosexuals in Germany are still discriminated against because of their sexual orientation and experience violence and harassment.

... due to a disability

People with disabilities are also discriminated against. They often encounter social, legal, and practical barriers in their everyday life. For example, wheelchair users have no access to many public places and buildings, and many people with disabilities find it difficult to get a good education. One of the reasons for this is that many people think that people with disabilities cannot be productive members of society. Of course that is nonsense too! In order to protect the rights of people with disabilities and to assure them active participation in society, the international convention “Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities” was adopted in 2006 by the General Assembly of the United Nations.

Often, people are not discriminated against for just one reason (e.g. based on gender), but for several reasons (e.g. based on gender and ethnic origin). Then one speaks of multiple discrimination.

Laws to protect against discrimination

There are various laws that are designed to protect people from discrimination. One of the most important German laws against discrimination is the “General Equal Treatment Act” (AGG). The law came into force on August 18, 2006. The aim of the law is to prevent or eliminate discrimination based on gender, ethnic or cultural origin, religion or belief, age, sexual identity or disability.
But also in other laws and conventions such as the Convention on Human Rights (Articles 1 + 2) and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (Article 2) it is written that all people have the same dignity and the same rights and therefore must not be discriminated against.

How can you defend yourself against discrimination?

Discrimination is forbidden in Germany! Unfortunately, it still happens that people experience disadvantage on a daily basis. But you don't have to accept that under any circumstances! Should you yourself be discriminated against for any reason or see someone else (for example in your class) being discriminated against, it is important that you act!

Here are a few tips on what you can do about discrimination:

  • Always write down exactly what happened so that you can describe the situation in detail later. Sometimes it is also good to have witnesses who also saw the discrimination.
  • First, try to personally address the person who discriminated against you.

If that doesn't work, then ...

  • Looking for someone who can support you (e.g. tutor, your parents, friends)
  • Or contact a counseling center (e.g. the Kinderache team, the number against Kummer or an anti-discrimination office)

Have you ever been discriminated against or do you know someone to whom this has happened? How do you feel when you hear about discrimination? Do you have any other ideas what to do about it?