Have you experienced or witnessed discrimination?
The phenomenon of discrimination is a highly complex concept which may consist of various behaviours which consequently cause different, worse, often degrading, humiliating or derogatory treatment of a particular social group or individual due to his/her feature. The behaviours discriminating a given person may be of different nature, impact and form – they can be expressed both with words and gestures or with a specific treatment of another person.
It is worth pointing out that each of us can become a victim of discrimination, although it is groups of persons with a specific feature that are particularly exposed to such behaviours, including, i.a. gender, age, sexual orientation, nationality, religion, beliefs, disability, ethnic origin, etc.
Discrimination may occur in any sphere of human life, although special attention is paid to the issues of unequal treatment of persons in such spheres of activity as: education, employment, family life.
A very important issue in the context of fighting against unequal treatment is the reaction of both the persons experiencing such behaviour and the persons who have witnessed discriminatory behaviours towards others.
One of the basic steps in the fight against discrimination is to react to this type of behaviours, which should take place both when we have become victims of discrimination and when such situation has not concerned us directly. It should be remembered that reporting manifestations of discriminatory behaviour by persons experiencing unequal treatment is still a problematic issue. This is due to the fact that the situations in which a given person has been discriminated are often underestimated or considered as marginal cases. It is also common to hear repeated schemes that the fault for such type of behaviour lies with the victim who “provoked” the perpetrator or “agreed at such situation”. Therefore, it should be emphasised that reaction and opposition to such behaviour is extremely important in the context of fight against discrimination.
Regardless of the situation in which we experience unequal treatment – becoming a victim of such behaviour – it is worth informing the person who commits discrimination that one is aware of his/her rights and by no means expresses consent to similar situations. The opposition of the victim towards the person who commits discrimination is not always expressed with words – it can consist in a certain implicit behaviour which indicates that we do not accept such behaviour and we do not agree to it. However, expressing objection is not always an easy action; therefore, the persons who witness such type of behaviours can also play a significant role here.
An important issue in the context of fighting against discrimination is also informing about such behaviour the supervisors of the person who has committed a discriminatory behaviour. Depending on the complexity of the problem, it is worth considering whether a given issue can be resolved amicably or settled by agreement between the parties.
The victim of discrimination may also take specific legal steps:
1. Depending on the situation in which there has been an infringement of the prohibition of discrimination or discriminatory nature of a behaviour, there is a possibility of:
- lodging a complaint to a Labour court,
- filing a claim to a civil court for infringement of personal rights,
- or in certain cases – notifying of the offence (orally or in writing at the police or at prosecutors’ office).
2. One possibility is also to ask governmental and non-governmental organisations dealing with discrimination issues, including, i.a.:
- Polish Ombudsman >> www.rpo.gov.pl
- Government Plenipotentiary for Equal Treatment >> www.spoleczenstwoobywatelskie.gov.pl
- Polish Society of Anti-Discrimination Law >> www.ptpa.org.pl
- Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights >> www.hfhr.pl
- Association for Legal Intervention >> www.interwencjaprawna.pl
- Women’s Rights Centre >> www.cpk.org.pl
- Campaign Against Homophobia >> www.kph.org.pl
- Federation for Women and Family Planning >> www.federa.org.pl
- Polish Forum of People with Disabilities >> www.pfon.org
- Foundation for Social Diversity (FRS) >> https://ffrs.org.pl/
- Association against Anti-Semitism and Xenophobia “Open Republic” >> www.otwarta.org
3. In case of experiencing discrimination at the University of Warsaw, there is a possibility of addressing university organisations dealing in their activities with the issues of unequal treatment and discrimination on the premises of the university. In case of being a victim or witness of discrimination, one can address:
- Rector’s Committee for Preventing Discrimination >> www.uw.edu.pl/uniwersytet/wladze-i-administracja/komisje-i-zespoly/komisja-rektorska-ds-przeciwdzialania-dyskryminacji
- Equal Opportunity Chief Specialist at UW >> firstname.lastname@example.org
- Academic Ombudsman >> www.portal.uw.edu.pl/web/ombudsman
- UW Office for Persons with Disabilities >> www.bon.uw.edu.pl
- Centre for Disputes and Conflict Resolution at the Faculty of Law and Administration UW >> www.mediacje.wpia.uw.edu.pl
- University of Warsaw Law Clinic – Student Legal Aid Centre >> www.uw.edu.pl/poradnie-i-osrodki/pomoc-prawna
- Academic Legal Counselling >> www.akademickaporadniaprawna.pl
- Psychological Aid Center >> www.cpp.uw.edu.pl