Humans are a terrible species

29 08 2015

Back in 1969 a man set foot on the moon. 1969. I was 5 years old. It was almost 50 years ago!

In 1990 – a full 25 years ago – South Africa, racially fractured almost since its founding by European powers began its own path to reconciliation and healing.

In 1950 India – the world’s largest democracy, let’s not forget- made inter-caste discrimination illegal. 65 years ago. Progress.

Today I was made aware of two international stories that made me shake my head and realise that these successes of humanity are but a veneer on what we really are deep at heart – tribal, ignorant animals scared of anything and more importantly anyONE that is “other”. We’ve become sophisticated over the millennia, but that just makes us so much more subtle (or not, in the first tale I’ll recount) in the way we express our prejudice.

The first story I’ll tell nearly made me choke on my morning tea. In Baghpat – just north of New Delhi in northern India, a man from the Dalit (untouchables) class fell in love with a woman from the higher Jat community. We’re led to believe it was fully reciprocated. She was subsequently married off to a more suitable upper class husband, but a month later in a scene I imagine similar to The Graduate, her “unsuitable” but romantic lover ran off with her anyway.

This is 2015 remember. In a democratic country that 65 years ago made it illegal to discriminate based on caste. You might imagine some indignation. Her parents can’t be too happy for sure. But the actual reaction?… his family were tortured OFFICIALLY by the police and his two sisters sentenced to rape for his “crime”. Yes, you read that right… they weren’t subjected to rape by vindictive relations (the Jat community did in fact ransack their home), no this was a judicial sentence. One sister is 15 FFS! Sentenced by an unelected council to be raped and then paraded naked through the streets!

Thankfully the girls managed to get India’s Supreme Court involved and Amnesty International is now on the ball. But it’s not a slam dunk they’ll escape being subjected to this throw-back to earlier times, punished barbarically for their brother’s “cross-caste” love affair, deemed a crime they must pay for.

Read more about it at Mashable.

Source: Indian sisters sentenced to rape because of their brother’s affair

The second story that came to my attention today is much closer to home. Not geographically – it’s actually in Switzerland. It is however an attitude I come across commonly in and around Vancouver. The BBC reports that the Swiss Blick news agency has reported that the Rigi resort has put on special trains to cater for the vast number of Chinese visitors. The reason? They’re apparently noisy and disturb “other visitors” (i.e. more like “us”). Blick reports “They crowd the corridors while taking pictures from the train, there has been rudeness in packed carriages, and some even report seeing tourists spit on the floor“. There’s also reports of “Rigi seems to be firmly in Chinese hands!” and “Toilets are now cleaned more often, and signs have been put up showing how to use them correctly“. It’s all couched in terms of helping the Chinese visitors, but I can’t help but feel there’s more than a little resentment of “other”. I myself often see elderly members of our local Chinese community spitting in the street and I’ve heard tell that following an elderly Chinese lady into a public toilet can be “an experience”. At root though this is no more than a culture clash, and if we are wanting to welcome the income from foreign visitors we need also to understand that they will bring different perspectives and expectations. Segregation comes in many guises and “adding extra trains for the Chinese to avoid conflict with other visitors” is very different to simply adding more capacity.

A mountain resort in Switzerland is launching special train services for Chinese tourists.

 

Source: Switzerland: Special trains for Chinese tourists – BBC News

 

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