DISCRIMINATION can take various forms and can cause unimaginable harm to minorities living among a dominant majority – a majority that does not encounter obstacles in getting an education, finding a job or simply boarding a bus or expressing an opinion.
Discrimination does not simply fade away when undemocratic regimes metamorphose into democratic ones, and it does not disappear under the march of time unless its manifestations are confronted by remedial legislation, better education of younger generations and effective awareness campaigns.
The maturity of a modern democratic nation should be partly measured by the availability of equal opportunities for different groups within society in accessing various life needs as well as greater awareness in society about why some people could be totally left out if only the ‘law of the jungle’ is applied: only those who are stronger and part of the larger group survive.
Many Slovaks of the post-November 1989 generation have shared a rather unusual perception when they first travelled abroad: they were surprised how many physically-impaired people lived in the United States or Great Britain. The unusual perception was certainly not because there were no disabled people in communist Czechoslovakia – instead, it was because these citizens simply did not have the chance to use the streets or ride on public transport. They were locked in home prisons, hidden from society’s view.
Many would say that things have changed here. Yes, they are changing slowly but Slovakia still has a long way to go in learning its equality lessons so that the voices of those who are not part of the majority are heard and they are given the same keys to access that the majority population enjoys.
The Slovak Spectator believes the media should play a leading role in raising awareness about unequal opportunities and different kinds of discrimination and for that reason it supported the idea of an essay competition among journalism students. The competition emerged as a result of cooperation between the Slovak National Centre For Human Rights, the Department of Journalism of Comenius University’s Faculty of Philosophy as well as The Slovak Spectator.
The Slovak Spectator agreed to print the best piece and the essay above by Michaela Šutková has been translated from its Slovak original and edited in accordance our style guide.
28. Mar 2011 at 0:00 | Dominika Uhríková