Tendayi Achiume, an independent UN human rights expert, who monitors racism and related intolerance, worries that in recent years there has been an “unleashing” of formerly marginal kinds of discourse. from anti-Semitism, to anti-black racism, and Islamophobia.
“Divisions and problems at a global and planetary level are all interconnected, and we may not have the kind of time that previous generations had to work these things out before our systems actually drown us,” she warns.
Ms. Achiume is one of the many experts we will hear from in the first, eight-part season of UNiting Against Hate, the latest series from UN Podcasts, which launches on Wednesday, 7 December.
Marginalized minorities are often the easy targets of hate speech: in exploring this we hear from Yashica Dutt, author of the book ‘Coming Out as Dalit’, who talks about the extreme online abuse she was subjected to, when she revealed that she was from the lowest stratum of castes in India, pejoratively described as “untouchables”, who still face prejudice and abuse in the country.
A problem that’s hard to define
The difficulties of pinning down a singular definition of hate speech and the problems of regulating it, while maintaining the right to freedom of expression are also discussed. Journalist Martina Mlinarevic, Ambassador of Bosnia and Herzegovina to the Czech Republic, describes the threats and insults she received online, for writing about politics and gender issues in her country.
“I had to move with a small child to another city due to threats and cyber bullying. That was the toughest and saddest part for me fleeing my hometown, where I lived for 37 years” says Mlinarevic.
But there are also many positive stories to share in this podcast, which highlights the work of organizations countering hate speech, online and offline. There are no easy answers, but the series raises many questions which, hopefully, will play a part in a discussion that has important ramifications for all societies.