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What is the most important part of your identity? Is it your sex, your ethnicity, your sexual orientation? Is there one part of your identity that stands out from the rest? Is your identity ever a barrier to you in exercising your human rights? This year’s 8×8 Festival uses powerful photographs, infographic artworks and data from international sources to bring into focus the discrimination that people around the world face because of how they self-identity or are identified by others. Topics focuses on include sexual orientation, gender, health status, ethnicity, immigrant status, physical abilities and religion.

Image by: © HUMAN RIGHT WATCH, 2017

SEXUAL FREEDOM

A young woman at an LGBTQ+ community centre in Accra, Ghana, 2017. Ghanaians who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender suffer discrimination and abuse both in public and in family settings. Disclosure of their sexual orientation is likely to lead to them being thrown out of their jobs, schools and homes, and stigmatisation makes it impossible for them to become productive members of the community. While some Ghanaian officials have called for an end to violence based on sexual orientation and gender identity, the government has yet to repeal a colonial-era ‘anti-gay’ law that criminalises same-sex activity. This law contributes to a social environment in which there is pervasive violence against lesbian, bisexual and gender non-conforming women in the home and LGBT people more generally in communities where they live.

Artwork : © MARIJE SCHMITZ-NIEHAUS, 2018.

SEXUAL FREEDOM

LGBTQ+ rights are continuously under threat, restricted, or withheld around the world. In 2017, the world witnessed mass detentions and torture of gay and bisexual men in Chechnya; mass arrests and forced anal exams in Egypt; the closure of LGBTQ-friendly health services in Tanzania, and police raids on LGBTQ+ spaces across Indonesia. ‘Conversion therapy’, a widely discredited practice that attempts to change people’s sexual orientation, is only banned in three countries - Malta, Brazil and Ecuador. In May 2018, the Irish Prohibition of Conversion Therapies Bill 2018 passed its second stage in the Seanad. When it becomes law, it will be illegal for anyone to perform conversion therapy in Ireland.

Image by : © JON SPAULL (PANOS PICTURES), 2010

GENDER IDENTITY

A client at the Palal Foundation Beauty Parlour ‘Queer’, 2010. India’s Palal Foundation works with the transgender and transexual community to raise awareness of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. In 2016, the Transgender Persons Bill was developed in India to combat the inequality faced by transgender people. It upholds a transgender person’s right to decide their own gender but the Bill came under severe criticism from activists and members of the community for various reasons, including its definition of a transgender person. Intolerance from the state and society towards India’s transgender people continues to this day. The nature of discrimination ranges from impeding transgender people’s access to education, employment and health care, to extortion, harassment, arbitrary arrest and sexual violence. The exclusion of this community forces many to drop out of schools and universities and pushes some to make their livelihood through begging or sex work.

Artwork : © MARIJE SCHMITZ-NIEHAUS, 2018

GENDER IDENTITY

Gender identity should have no bearing on whether someone enjoys fundamental rights such as health care, education, and employment. But for transgender people, it does. Transgender people are fifty times more likely to acquire HIV than the population as a whole because stigma and discrimination create barriers to accessing health services. They are routinely turned down for jobs and housing when it is realised that their appearance does not match the gender marker on their official documents. Transgender youth face abuse in school settings ranging from sexual assault, to bullying, to being forced to attend single- sex schools. In Ireland, it was not until 2015, after an overwhelming victory on the same-sex marriage referendum, that the government permitted gender recognition based on identity.

Image by: © ALFREDO D’AMATO (Panos pictures), 2008

HEALTH STATUS

In Sofala, Mozambique, on World AIDS Day 2008, a young boy leans against the wall of the Casa Provincial de Cultura and reads an information lea et. At 12.3 per cent, Mozambique’s HIV rate is one of the ten highest in the world. And, because of poor access to hospital testing and treatment services, the number continues to rise. In 2016, Mozambique had 83,000 new HIV infections and 62,000 AIDS-related deaths. There were 1.8 million people living with HIV in 2016, among whom only 54 per cent were accessing antiretroviral therapy. Among pregnant women living with HIV, 80 per cent were accessing treatment or prophylaxis to prevent transmission of HIV to their children. However, an estimated 13,000 babies were infected with HIV due to mother-to-child transmission in 2016.

Artwork : © MARIJE SCHMITZ-NIEHAUS, 2018

HEALTH STATUS

The spread and impact of HIV on individuals and communities around the world is inextricably linked with human rights. Stigma and discrimination around HIV cause psychological damage to people with the virus. They are more likely to hide or ignore their status, which puts their health and the health of their partners and children at risk. For example, Indonesia’s persecution of its LGBTQ+ community has made it increasingly difficult for health workers to conduct screenings and distribute condoms and HIV testing kits, fuelling the spread of HIV in the country. The 2017 HIV in Ireland Survey found that stigma continues to have a significant impact on people living with HIV. Sixty-one per cent of respondents reported not disclosing their status for fear of being judged or treated differently.

Image by : © NIC DUNLOP (PANOS PICTURES), 2005

ETHNICITY

A young girl learns to recite the Koran at a mosque at Thad Key Pyin refugee camp, a Muslim enclave in Myanmar were approximately 5,000 Rohingya refugees lived in 2005. Roughly 90 per cent of Myanmarese citizens practice Buddhism, and in recent years extreme Buddhist nationalism has given rise to violence and anti-Muslim rhetoric. The Rohingya, a Muslim ethnic minority of 1 million people, face systematic religious and ethnic discrimination. Deliberate discrimination has left them living in deplorable conditions, segregated, with limited access to schools, health care and jobs. According to the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, the Rohingya are one of the most oppressed ethnic groups in the world. The United Nations has described the army purge against the persecuted minority as ethnic cleansing.

Image : © MARIJE SCHMITZ-NIEHAUS, 2018

ETHNICITY

Ethnic discrimination is a global issue that affects political and economic growth in all regions of the world. For example, many Roma people, the biggest ethnic minority in Europe, live in overwhelmingly poor conditions on the margins of society, and face extreme levels of social exclusion. In Ireland, a study by the Economic and Social Research Institute found that Irish Travellers were twenty-two times more likely to face discrimination than white Irish members of the general population when seeking customer services. Furthermore, it estimates almost 70 per cent of Travellers live in insufficient or overcrowded housing, only 1 per cent have a college degree, and an overwhelming 82 per cent are unemployed.

Image by : © UNHCR/ ROGER ARNOLD, 2017

IMMIGRANT STATUS

A Rohingya mother Lal Moti and her child, Osmaitara, in Kutupalong Refugee Camp, Bangladesh in 2017. Ethnic Myanmarese consider the Rohingya, a Muslim ethnic minority, to be illegal immigrants from Bangladesh. As ‘non- citizens’, they have no civil rights and have to register for temporary ID cards. In 2015, they were stripped of the right to vote. Then the killings started, and the sexual and gender-based violence, the arbitrary arrests, and the burning of Rohingya villages by the Myanmar security forces. Entire families, young mothers, and unaccompanied minors ed for their lives. Approximately 700,000 Rohingya ed Myanmar since August 2017. Living in refugee camps in Bangladesh, their shelters of plastic and bamboo are packed closely together, and they have inadequate water and sanitation.

Image by: © MARIJE SCHMITZ-NIEHAUS, 2018

IMMIGRANT STATUS

The treatment of Rohingya in Myanmar is just the latest example of discrimination against people fleeing their homes for safety. Yemeni government officials have tortured, raped, and executed migrants and asylum-seekers from the Horn of Africa, mainly Ethiopia, Somalia, and Eritrea. In 2017, Sudan forcibly returned over 100 asylum-seekers to Eritrea. And until early 2013, Israel prevented tens of thousands of Eritreans from lodging asylum claims. Asylum-seekers in Ireland have little to no civil rights either. The State’s direct-provision policy has been widely criticised by the UN and by other human-rights groups. At least 4,300 asylum-seekers, of which more than 1,600 are children, are spread across thirty-four accommodation centres. More than 600 refugees have been living in what are meant to be ‘temporary’ conditions for over seven years.

Image by: © UN PHOTO/ALBERT GONZALEZ FARRAN, 2011

PHYSICAL ABILITIES

Salah Aldin Abdurrahman, a blind man from El Fasher, North Darfur, is a member of the Sudanese Association for Disabled People, which helps people with disabilities across the region. Thirteen years ago, there were more than 600,000 blind people in Sudan. At that time, 40 per cent of them did not receive treatment because of poverty and the remoteness of their area. In 2005, Sudan adopted the Vision 2020 Initiative, which aimed to treat the main causes of vision loss in the country, such as cataracts, river blindness and trachoma. As of 2015, the number of blind people had dropped to 225,000. Somia Akad, Sudan’s Minister of Health, said, ‘We believe causes of vision loss in Sudan are characterized by health problems which can be addressed through disseminating services and increasing health awareness and education via early diagnosis.’

Image by : © MARIJE SCHMITZ-NIEHAUS, 2018

PHYSICAL ABILITIES

People with disabilities, particularly in the Global South, experience poorer health, lower education achievements, fewer economic opportunities and higher rates of poverty. This is because of the social barriers they face in their everyday lives rather than because of their disability. Stigma about disability is pervasive in every society. For example, in Zambia disability is often considered a curse caused by evil spirits or witchcraft. Lack of access to explanations for disability conditions fuel these misconceptions. In Ireland, despite an apparent increase in positive attitudes towards people living with disabilities, there is a need to improve employment opportunities, transport access and promote inclusive education.

Image by : © VLAD SOKHIN (Panos Pictures), 2013

SOCIO-ECONOMIC STATUS

Enso, a ‘restavek’, points to gra ti near his master’s house in Port-au-Prince, Haiti in 2013. Because he doesn’t have any toys, in the rare free time he gets he ‘plays’ with the superheroes drawn on the wall. In Haiti, impoverished parents sometimes send their children to live with relatives or strangers in the hope that they will get food and lodging, possibly even education. In reality, these restaveks (from reste avec, to stay with) are often treated as domestic slaves. According to Human Rights Watch, an estimated one in every fteen children in Haiti are restaveks. Haiti’s situation shows the class inequality and the vast gap in income with which many developing countries struggle. The richest 10 per cent of Haitians receive 70 per cent of the country’s total income.

Image by : © MARIJE SCHMITZ-NIEHAUS, 2018

SOCIO-ECONOMIC STATUS

Poverty is a socio-economic issue, which the UN describes as ‘fundamentally a denial of choices and opportunities, and a violation of human dignity . . . it means insecurity, powerlessness and exclusion of individuals, households and communities.’ For example, in Haiti, two out of three Haitians live on less than $2 each day, while 24.7 per cent of the population lives on less than $1.25 per day. In Ireland, almost 800,000 people are living in poverty despite our improved economic performance, according to Social Justice Ireland. Similarly, in the United States, the world’s wealthiest country, 40 million Americans live below the poverty line. In 2014, 1.65 million Americans were living on less than $2 a day.

Image by : © LE MONDE.FR / ANTONIN SABOT, 2016

RELIGION

Halim Abdelmalek, a Muslim man living in France, says that his reputation and business were ruined when, on 15 November 2015, police placed him under house arrest in Paris. This was part of the response to the coordinated terror attacks on 13 November 2015 in which 130 people died. On 23 January 2016, a judge suspended Halim’s home detention and awarded him just €1,500 in compensation. During the state of emergency, which lasted two years, the government ordered house arrests and police raids and banned public assemblies. A total of 4,457 house raids took place, 80 per cent during the rst six months of the state of emergency. Nineteen places of Islamic worship were closed, 646 Muslims were taken into custody, and 752 more were put under house arrest.

Image by : © MARIJE SCHMITZ-NIEHAUS, 2018

RELIGION

Religious groups face discrimination across the globe. For example, there has been a significant increase in discriminatory acts against Muslims across Europe, with tensions fuelled by the migration crisis, a string of terror attacks and the rise of openly anti-Muslim parties in France, the Netherlands and Germany. Two in five Muslims say that they have faced unfair treatment when job-hunting or house-hunting or when accessing public services such as education or health care. Most of those who had been treated unfairly in the past five years think that it is because of their name, skin colour or appearance, while 17 per cent feel discriminated against because of their religious belief.

Image by: © MICHELLE FERNG, 2014

AGE

Older women gather in a community center in the outskirts of Lima, Peru in 2014 to prepare for the National Day of Older Persons. Peru is among many countries undergoing rapid aging, with the proportion of the population over the age of 60 projected to rise from 9.2 per cent in 2014 to 22.7 per cent in 2050. Advances in medicine, improvements in sanitation and economic prosperity have led to longer life expectancies, while family planning has resulted in falling birth rates across the globe. However, for low- and middle-income families, rapid ageing can be a double-edged sword due to limited resource availability, deteriorating family support and inadequate social protection. In Peru, during 2012 and 2013, a network of government- sponsored centres for domestic violence recorded 3,828 cases of violence against older people – 4.2 per cent of the total cases. More than 80 per cent of these involved women, and 97 per cent involved physical or psychological abuse.

Image by : © MARIJE SCHMITZ-NIEHAUS, 2018

AGE

One of the most tragic aspects of the coming demographic shift is elder abuse, which can take many forms: physical, psychological, emotional, financial and sexual, aswell as abandonment or neglect. The rate of elder abuse is expected to increase as populations are ageing at an unprecedented pace. In Ireland, a national campaign to help stamp out financial abuse of vulnerable adults began in October 2017. Since it started collating data in January 2016, the NSC’s ‘Lift the Lid’ campaign has reported 1,645 cases of alleged adult financial abuse to the HSE National Safeguarding Office.

Image by : © SVEN TORFINN (PANOS PICTURES), 2011

WOMEN

A rape survivor is photographed in the Elman Peace and Human Rights Centre in Somalia, 2011. In southern Somalia, countless women and girls are being gang-raped and abused by members of militant groups such as al-Shabab. Aid workers and victims say there has been a free-for-all of armed men preying upon women and girls displaced by Somalia’s famine. Armed assailants operating with complete impunity often sexually assault, rape, beat, shoot, and stab women and girls inside camps or on the streets. The law punishing rape is very rarely enforced. In Somalia, women’s rights are protected in law, but in practice women face significant official, cultural and social barriers to accessing education, justice and property rights. They continue to be under-represented in public life throughout the country.

Artwork by : © MARIJE SCHMITZ-NIEHAUS, 2018

WOMEN

Women own just 1 per cent of the world’s wealth, perform long hours of unpaid domestic work, and have less access to education and less political representation. In Somalia, 95 per cent of girls undergo genital mutilation. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, 1,000 women are raped every day. In Brazil, ten women lose their lives each day to domestic violence. Many countries don’t allow women to leave the home or receive education – illiteracy is at 90 per cent among women in Afghanistan. Furthermore, in many countries, women have limited access to prenatal and infant care, and are more likely to experience complications during pregnancy and childbirth. The silence of survivors, their families and law enforcement has enabled and fuelled this mistreatment of women.

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