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New Social Compact

Intellectual secularism: The sickness of all times

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The human nature and its knowledge is entirely and linearly entwined, overlapping each other and inseparable from each other. With the passage of time, social evolution, in a sense, has consummated sagaciously and hence at a same time, for every political man (is the economic man, ethical man, juridicial man, intellectual man, esthetical man).

We diagnostic ate universe as world (of mind, life, matter) and correspondingly we study physical, biological and social sciences to peg an understanding of this interdependent and inseparably complex phenomenon.

As far as knowledge regarding world of matter is concerned, it’s gasconaded, western scholars have managed to make a stupefying and confounding anabasis. Today they describe splitting up of an atom and how Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Pakistan, Kashmir, Hiroshima, Nagasaki et`al can be brought into its radius. They have pierced space and pictured Venus as never before. They have an unsatisfactory research result in biological sciences and hitherto pretense it as “comme il faut” and therefore forfend them to peevish its arrant paucity. Nevertheless contrasting is the scenario in fields of social sciences, wherein they agree by aphorism “heretofore utter disorder in social sciences, succumbing and oxidizing of western civilization if social sciences are not systematized and developed, impediments in their development is because of beggared perspicacity regarding human nature.

There are enough experienced authorities to support my claim but let me quote just one. In his celebrated book “world chaos”, author and well known psychologist Mcdougall says “our ignorance of the nature of man has prevented and still prevents the development of all social sciences. They are the crying need of our time; for lack of them our civilization is threatened gravely with decay and perhaps complete collapse”. “What then in practical terms is the remedy? I give my answer most concisely by suggesting what I would do if I were a dictator. I would by every means seek to diver all our most powerful intellects from the physical sciences to research in the human and social sciences”.

There arises a question: in spite of the fact that if social sciences are not adequately developed, western civilization will corrode and senescence, why have western scholars failed? They have pierced the atom’s invisible heart but fail to do so in the case of human mind, which essentially is the society’s atom, why? If development stages of various philosophies are minutely viewed, then only it can be answered. Western scholars have a predominant and diacritic attitude of mind which results in an acute chauvinism and antagonism con to every intellectual idea pertaining to psychological, biological or physical sciences and bout of intellectual theory, explanation or conclusion, we climactically usher towards concept of god. Learned men have termed this predisposition or antagonistic attitude of mind as INTELLECTUAL SECULARISM and mutually shared by all western scholars but highly manifested in a different form within atheists (Harris, Hitchens, and Dawkins) about whom I have already made a reference in my last column.

We know every object has a definite and ultimate origin and hence knowledge pertaining to ultimate origin becomes a part of the total knowledge regarding that object and we aim and aspire for the same by our very nature. For a believer, a rose didn’t came as bolt from the blue but created by god out of his infinite love of beauty, wisdom, power etc but an atheist perceives being of rose as an operation executed by nature’s mechanical and material forces. As human beings we are bound to attribute penultimate origin to things known to us and when goofed attributes are associated by very same nature, then the object and related knowledge can by no means be right.

Certainly yes, scientists must travail to elucidate whole enchilada not beyond laws of nature framework. However if this universe was created by god or is the source of this creation then it implies aesthetic, moral and mental attributes of creator wriggle in the laws of universe, in the same manner, when an artist makes a picture, all his aesthetic, moral and mental traits gain entr`ee into that picture or for that matter a seed has the potential to exfoliate in the form of flowers, branches and leaves. Therefore it’s futile to comprehend the nature of that deity and the laws of nature in segregation. This correlation has been beautifully summed up by philosopher-poet of the East, Sir Muhammad Iqbal. He says “Nature as we have seen is not a mass of pure materiality occupying a void. It’s a structure of events, a systematic mode of behavior and as such organic to the ultimate self. Nature is to the divine self as character is to the human self in the picturesque phrase of the Quran it’s the habit of Allah”.

When books written by Muslim scientists and scholars where translated in Europe, there was a frequent reference to god in texts, reflecting their indebtedness towards god who provided them with knowledge and through these texts they wanted readers to know the creator in a better way. They invented modern science and scientific methods on account of spiritual leaning universe. In Briffault’s book “making of humanity” there is an important passage which starts as “it was under their successors at the oxford school that roger bacon learned Arabic and Arabic science. Neither Roger Bacon nor his later namesake has any little to be credited with having introduced the experimental method. Roger bacon was no more than one of the apostles of the Muslim science and method to Christian Europe; and he never wearied of declaring that knowledge of Arabic and science was for his contemporaries the only way to true knowledge. Discussions as to who was the originator of the experimental method are part of the colossal misrepresentation of the origins of European civilization. The experimental method of Arabs was by Bacon’s time widespread and eagerly cultivated throughout the Europe. The Greeks systematized, generalized and theorized but the patient ways of investigation, accumulation of positive knowledge, minute method of science, detailed and prolonged observation and experimental inquiry were altogether alien to Greek temperament. The spirit and those methods were introduced into the European world by the Arabs”.

But currently what is hampering scientific growth in various essential spheres is the intellectual secularism of western scholars who succeeded Muslim scientists. An evident chasm was created between divine, spiritual or celestial and temporal, secular or mundane, between world of spirit and world of matter by Jesus Christ, when he sundered dues of Caeser and god. The roots of intellectual secularism would have been on top of the heap only in unique Christendom’s intellectual environment, since its references rest in Christianity intrinsically. Amidst Christianity, is a contradiction between this and next world. Fruits of next world depend on sacrifices made here. Science and religion live in separate spheres because religion in this world becomes extraneous in the life of a man when it’s meant for the betterment of next world. On the contrary, intellectual sciences are for the prosperity of this world. Belief without reason is what religion impresses on. It is irrational, dogmatic and transacts with an invisible world but scientific conclusions rest on experiment, observation, intellect and reason. Hence when god is referred as part of intellectual argument annihilates the logic of rationale and debate skews in the sphere of religion, where focus is on belief without reason instead against reason, irrationality, prejudice and dogma.

This western intellectual secularism has been accentuated by atheists mentioned earlier and further engendered by suppression and penalization between separation of state and church. The moment religion lost its foothold in the polity courtyard officially; it lost its thrust on community and individuals as well. The immediate outcome appeared as secularization of intellectual activity, social education, economic and legal activities. The 21ST century physicists, who perceive matter as visible and real have now added fuel to fire and corroborated prejudice against religion and god. Consciousness, spirit and god appear unreal due to invisibility and can’t be subjected to experiments. When the views of Darwin, a product of rigid and cold materialism and mechanism were raised to pedestal, this prejudice enhanced and was accorded cachet of intellectual idea. He described man as causatum of survival of the fittest, natural selection and struggle for existence. He termed faculties of imagination, conscience and reason as mere chance.

Describing man as a refined form of chimpanzee, Darwinism perfectly suited the western loathing of religion and now every object and natural phenomenon is seen as outcome of chance. Their prejudice against deity being an intellectual concept is so strong that “their ignorance of human nature which they believe to be fraught with dangerous possibilities for the entire human race may be due to the fact that they are ignoring the possibility of notion of god being the only key to a scientific understanding of human nature. Indeed they are not prepared to acquire a scientific knowledge of man at the cost of their intellectual secularism. They cannot conceive the possibility of a theory of human nature being at once spiritual and scientific. When they complain of their ignorance of human nature they have in mind that a scientific theory of human nature, when formulated will be secular or non-spiritual. But it can never be so, for man has something divine in him”.

In one of his letters to Charles kingsly, T.H. Huxley wrote “sit down before fact as a little child, be prepared to give up preconceived notion, follow humbly whenever and to whatever abysses nature leads or you shall learn nothing”. Following the Darwinian concept of evolution which, of course, suits eminently their intellectual secularism, they believe that what comes first in the sequence of the results of evolution is matter with its physical laws and then comes the animal with his instincts and last of all there appears the human being with his gift of self-consciousness or personality and its capacity to love ideals. The animal is a modified product of matter which becomes alive on account of this modification. It is nothing but matter in its origin. They conclude therefore that since the urge for an ideal in a human being has its origin in his animal nature it can be only a modified form of one or more of his animal instincts. They derive man from the animal and the animal from matter so that ultimately the reality of man is matter.

Thus we see Freud explaining the human urge for an ideal as a distorted and modified form of his sex instinct the object of which is to provide man with a substitute activity in the form of religion, morality, art, science, philosophy, and politics to compensate him for the thwarted and obstructed activity of his sexual instinct. According to Adler man’s urge for an ideal is a distorted and modified form of his instinct of self assertion which has been operating all along in the history of organic evolution for the protection of the life of the animal against other hostile and aggressive animals. When an individual is unable to satisfy a particular desire for power he creates. The desire for a relevant ideal and strives after it to compensate himself for his sense of inferiority. Karl Marx is of the view that the urge for ideals in man is only an unconscious distortion of his economic urge. Man strives after an ideal apparently but really his activity is motivated by his economic conditions which he desires to improve. McDougall explains the urge for an ideal in man as a result of the occasional reinforcement of the sentiment of self-regard itself a peculiar compound of all his instincts by the instinct of self assertion. But all these explanations: of the source and purpose of ideals in human nature are logically defective, incoherent and inconsistent. Freud for example does not tell us why and how*a man’s ideal which according to him is born of his sex instinct is sometimes able to rule and control his sex instinct to the extent of eliminating it totally from his life.

Adler is unable to explain how the instinct of self-assertion the primary object of which is the protection of life creates an ideal for the sake of which man becomes ready sometimes to lay down his life. Similarly the view of Karl Marx does not explain why if the, function of a man’s ideal is to improve his economic conditions which are only a means for the preservation of his life, why does he become ready to starve himself to death for the sake of his ideal whenever his ideal calls upon him to do so. Such questions are very, difficult to answer consistently with any of the theories of ideals put forward by these writers. Hence none of them has even faced such questions. The mental attitude of each of these writers is no more reasonable than that of a man who, not knowing how and why tree grows, may insist upon telling us that what exists first of all in the history of the growth of a tree is its stem and later on there appear its branches and leaves and finally there is its seed embedded in a flower. He ignores the original seed of the tree out of which the tree grows simply because it was hidden from his view below the soil and he did not see it. He saw instead only the stalk of the young tree growing out of the soil. Just as he in his ignorance explains the tree out of its stem and not out of its seed which is its real origin so these writers in their ignorance explain the human being out of matter and not out of self-consciousness which is his real origin.

As a matter of fact there is no idea of the place and role of ideals in human nature and human activity more satisfactory and more convincing than this that “the urge for ideals is neither derived from nor sub serves any of those human impulses known as instincts, which man shares with the animals below him on the ladder of evolution. On the other hand it is man’s natural and independent urge for beauty and perfection which rules and controls all such impulses in spite of their biological pressure for the sake of its own expression and satisfaction.”

To be brief, the implications of the only true and the only possible explanation of the place and role of ideals in human nature which lead irresistibly to the concept of God, are such that the scholars of the West cannot accept it in view of their creed of intellectual secularism. So strong is this prejudice against the idea of God that when they feel that their study of nature has brought them very close to this idea and it may become difficult for them to avoid it they are horrified and refrain from using the term God and use some other term instead and thereby stop following nature further in the same direction. But since unfortunately the Western scholars are accepted by the world as the leaders of mankind in the intellectual field their prejudice has passed for a rational view and spread far and wide to the comers of the earth. The results have been already very disastrous and more disastrous results are bound to follow. The world’s progress in the knowledge of human nature has come to a dead stop and the human and social sciences which could be formulated only on the basis of a correct view of human nature are in a state of disorder. The biological sciences too are not in a hearty state. The theory of the fundamental cause of evolution, which if properly formulated could have made the human race hopeful of a glorious future, has been misunderstood. Its errors are being perpetuated by a clique of influential biologists who insist on maintaining its secular character at all costs.

If the scholars of the West had not been suffering from theophobia and had had the courage and the good sense to accept the advice of one of them, Mr. Huxley, quoted above, that is, to “follow nature wherever and to whatever abyss>it may lead,” they would have successfully crossed the point at which their knowledge of the human and social sciences has come to a halt and would have accepted as true the only explanation of the role of the urge for ideals in human activity that is rationally possible. In such a case intellectual secularism would have disappeared from all sciences including the biological and the physical sciences automatically. For when we change our view of man we have to change our view of the entire universe. A spiritual view of man is incompatible with a secular view of any part of the universe and its knowledge.

Some of the most eminent physicists of the world have already come to the conclusion that the ultimate nature of electric energy which has caused the material world to evolve to the stage of its perfection is a conscious force which has a mathematical mind. Yet they refuse to accept the conclusion, which is obvious to a man of religion, that this conscious force is the will or the creative desire of God. Similarly some eminent biologists have arrived at the conclusion that there is an internal conscious drive in an organism which regulates its growth in a chosen direction and which is the cause of all organic evolution from its earliest stages to the last. They call it the life-force, the elan vital or the vital’ impetus and attribute to it some qualities of mind consciousness. But they like their physicist brothers also refuse to come to the next conclusion which is equally obvious to a man who believes in God that this life force is the will or the creative desire of God which has expressed itself in a form that is appropriate to the animal stage of evolution. Again all psychologists believe that man has an urge for ideals and some of them believe also that it is an urge for beauty and perfection. But no psychologists have. cared to arrive at the next immediate conclusion that this urge can be perfectly satisfied only by an ideal of the highest beauty and perfection which can be no other than God and that it is the will or the creative desire of God that is expressing itself in the historical process urging the human society to act for the achievement of their own highest beauty and perfection.

A physicist may say, “do not know anything beyond the mathematical nature of the Reality of matter that I have discovered. I do not know that it has moral qualities and I do not want to compensate my lack of scientific knowledge as a physicist by the teachings of revelation although I believe in revelation.” Similarly a biologist may say that he has no scientific knowledge of the other qualities of the life-force that it may be possessing and he has no reason to suppose that it is God on the authority of revelation. A psychologist too may make a similar reply. But really there is nothing to prevent the physicists, the biologists and the psychologists from adopting the will or the creative desire of God instead of a mere mathematical mind a life force or an instinct as a provisional conclusion or hypothesis explaining the cause of material, biological or human evolution just to discover how far it can explain other facts of which no satisfactory explanation is yet available. If they had done so they would have found that the hypothesis does really explain a host of such facts and also opens the way to the knowledge of a host of new facts of the worlds of matter, life and mind. What is more they would have been able to coordinate and integrate their separate sciences into one Science of the Universe which would have ultimately explained everything, would have served as the Common Weltanschauung of humanity and would have united them as a single family of God. But what has actually stopped the physicists, the biologists or the psychologists from doing so is nothing but prejudice aversion from religion and an irrational secular attitude towards the universe.

My plea is that there is a point in the development of secularized scientific knowledge where the most fundamental of all the facts of revelation common to the teachings of all the great religions of the world, namely the idea of God and scientific knowledge, embrace each other as two inseparable companions each merging itself in the other and giving a tremendous rational support to the other, so that it cannot be distinguished which is science and which is revelation. When that point is reached scientific knowledge can no longer progress without its other companion. That point has been already reached and now scientific, knowledge cannot progress headlong unless it is made to embrace its inseparable other companion from whom it was unfortunately separated and whom it has been travelling through the centuries to rejoin. The idea of God is no longer a myth. It is a scientific fact which explains, orders, enlightens, enriches and reveals other scientific facts.

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New Social Compact

The Marriage of Social Media and Social Justice

Devika Khandelwal

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The aggressive use of different online platforms during electoral campaigns has made it evident that many political leaders are widely using platforms such as Twitter and Facebook to spread their election mandates and garner widespread support. Moreover, in the past few years, the use of social media has gone beyond politics and has contributed towards starting a global conversation amongst the citizens of the world to spread socially relevant messages and demand justice.

In today’s global world where many countries witness gross violation of human rights and political and social chaos, different online platforms have become a safe place to share their ordeal and demand justice. It is not just used by social workers and activists, but on several occasions ordinary citizens have taken to Twitter, Facebook or Vine to share their stories. Internet provides us with platforms where we can fight for our rights and against injustice, support people from all across the world in gaining justice, and helping people become better informed citizens of the world. The massive explosion of videos, hashtags and photographs on Twitter which are retweeted thousands of times, help people voice their concerns to a billion people in a span of seconds, especially when they think they are not being heard. From #BlackLivesMatter, #MeToo, #BreakTheSilence to #BringBackOurGirls, digital platforms have helped start a social revolution to help marginalised, oppressed and minorities fight for their rights. The internet helps people validate their experiences, share them as they happened without any colourful interpretation by media giants.

Recently, a Saudi Arabian teenager, Rahaf-Al-Qunun escaped from her family while they were on a trip, boarded a flight to Australia via Bangkok to seek asylum. However, she was held at the Bangkok airport by Thai and Saudi authorities and was asked to return to Kuwait where her family was waiting got her. She refused to get on a flight to Kuwait and barricaded herself into a hotel room. She used Twitter to share her story and sent out several tweets requesting for asylum from various countries. Her ordeal was picked up by the Human Rights Watch and journalists from across the world and later in the week, she was granted asylum in Canada.

Another successful social media campaign resulted in the problem of ‘Upskirting’ become a crime in the United Kingdom, after the UK Parliament passed a bill. The issue came to forefront when a woman in the UK was a victim of upskirting during a concert. She shared her story via a Facebook post, which went viral and was picked up and shared by thousands of women, who also shared their experiences. After the overwhelming response, she started an online petition to criminalize upskirting which was signed by over 50,000 people. This petition was picked up by a member of Parliament and was introduced as a Private Members Bill. After overcoming parliamentary obstacles, the bill was passed as a legislation.

Sharing issues and starting a dialogue on the internet with millions of people can help bring about radical changes in our society and help push social movements in the forefront of relevant authorities and mainstream media. It can help gather rallies and hold protests in a small amount of time and bring about real change.

Moreover, social media platforms are also being widely used to hold people accountable for their offensive actions and speeches. This was held true when famous actor Kevin Hart had to step down as a host at the Oscars after a public outcry regarding his offensive and homophobic tweets. This also holds true in the case of famous writer-director James Gunn who was fired from Walt Disney Productions due to his offensive tweets on molestation and paedophilia written 10 years ago. As it is famously said, ‘what is written on the internet stays there forever,’ the rise of social accountability helps hold people responsible for their actions and demand justice.

However, with the increase in the use of online platforms, it is sometimes possible that ‘fiction might find a way to become a fact.’ When a story is shared on Facebook or Twitter, there is no way to ascertain whether the facts shared are true or false. Due to this, social media can also ruin innocent people’s lives. People who are wrongly accused of rape, murder, paedophilia and theft on social media, not only take an emotional and financial toll, they are immediately fired from their jobs, and their careers are ruined. Moreover, people make quick judgments regarding everything we read on the internet without having all the facts and knowledge. Our reactions can have irreversible repercussions. For instance, in Vancouver in 2011, a drunk guy got into a fight and ended up stabbing a teenager through the neck. This incident was quickly taken up on social media and people named the ‘wrong guy’ in their posts. This nearly destroyed his life as he was immediately dropped from his job and sent death threats. Eventually the truth came out, but the social media frenzy had destroyed this individual’s life. Therefore, it is imperative that we do our due diligence before posting or believing anything we see on social media.

In my opinion, the plethora of online platforms available to the citizens of the world can be used in an extremely beneficial manner creating a positive environment. All it takes is one person to come forward with his/her story, which encourages thousands to come forward and share their experiences. It can help people deal with their inner demons, share their ordeals and also help overcome with any kind of mental illness. It is always said that it is easy to share your ordeals with a stranger, I believe that internet connects people to millions of strangers who not only sympathize but can also empathize with the situation. Even though I am aware that the internet can become a place of horror for many people, with regards to online bullying, cyber-crime, body shaming and so on, I do believe it has more positive implications than negative. It is a tool which needs to used wisely and can have long-lasting positive impact on the world.

In this ever-growing world of online platforms and the rise of social revolution where more and more people are sharing their battles and ordeals each day, digital media provides people with an unbiased platform to fight for their rights. They help in spreading socially relevant messages and stories amongst billion of people and bring to our attention different issues faced by people in different countries. Whether it is the oppressed Saudi Arabian women or the unfair treatment of the African-American community, or even the gross human rights violations faced by citizens of war-torn countries, the stories posted online lead to an international outcry for justice, attract attention of rule-makers, non-governmental organisations, journalists and help hold authorities and people accountable for their actions. But at the same time, we must also be wary and cautious of the stories we read on social media and make informed decisions.

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New Social Compact

The ‘Beauty Premium’ and other forms of stereotyping are real, and they’re a workplace problem

John Antonakis

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People say “seeing is believing”, but that’s wrong. The truth is, “I will see it when I believe it”.

As an academic psychologist I have spent years, and run dozens of experiments, looking at unconscious or implicit bias and its consequences. I consider factors such as looks, ethnicity, age and gender, to see if they influence world-of-work decisions such as hiring, promotion, salary. 

The short answer is that all these factors make a difference, even though they play no real role in the evaluated person’s performance. Beliefs guide the facts we see. They shouldn’t, it’s unfair. But they do. The so-called ‘Beauty Premium’ is real, as are a host of other biases.

Taking decisions this way is not unnatural.  Evolution has fashioned us to infer, to fill in knowledge gaps. Is that rustle in the grass the wind, or a snake? Assume, infer, and take the conservative decision. That’s how we survive.

But using inference or stereotypes to guide staffing decisions is not effective because the right candidate may be overlooked and the ‘right-looking’ but wrong candidate selected.

The point is we are very quick to size people up – age, sex, appearance, even height. We fill in the blanks and give them a price tag in a stereotypically consistent way. The problem is that once we decide about something we try to justify it because we don’t like to admit we were wrong.

One study I know asked people to vote on the basis of photos, as if they showed candidates running for public office. Afterwards, the voters were given information about the ‘candidates’ (e.g., political preferences, values, etc.) and then asked to vote again. Despite now having relevant information the voters hardly changed their opinions.

I thought this might be due to past experience – perhaps people have a learned stereotype of what a ‘Leader’ should look like? So I repeated the experiment with small children, too young to have learned bias, showing them pairs of photos and asking who would make the best captain of a boat (a position of responsibility they could understand). I asked some adults to do the same test. The children and the adults chose the same photos. No experiential factor could explain the choices, it had to be nature.

But, perhaps the motivation or education level of the testers played a role? So I did a similar experiment with kids using photos of candidates for elected positions at the Association of Psychological Science (APS). All the voters and candidates were scientific psychologists. But results were the same. When no photo was available in the original ballot material the APS members voted on the basis of publication record (a reasonably good proxy for the knowledge, status, and success of the candidates). However, when there had been photos included in the ballot materials nothing mattered but the face.

Maybe business people would take decisions in a more rational way? So, we asked experimental subjects to look at photos of managers in a large multinational company, and then asked them to judge the mangers for competence and personality. We accounted statistically for everything possible – age, qualifications, and so forth. Those managers who rated higher on looks earned more.

Implicit bias is even worse for women. Factors such as being overweight count against women even more than they do for men. And it’s not just appearance. I worked with a Swiss multinational looking at the transcripts of their internal performance evaluations, and statistically controlled for everything possible.  Men had a much higher likelihood of being described in a positive way; for example, “he really knows how to put his foot down” compared to a similar woman, who “really knows how to use her elbows”.

Age discrimination was also rife across the board, even though for high-level, cognitively complex jobs there is zero correlation between performance and age. In short, age and being male predicted future job and salary levels.

So women (and anyone else who does not fit role expectations) are walking on eggs. It’s a double bind. They must demonstrate exceptional competence to be seen as equal in ability to men, but must also avoid threatening them with competence and apparent lack of warmth, or behaviour that violates social stereotypes.

An experiment run by a professor at Yale University demonstrated the penalty for violating these social norms. One male and one female actor were each asked to record two versions of the same interview, one where they were calm and one showing some anger. Their answers were the same so rationally, the man and woman should have been ranked the same in the same condition. But it turns out that if a man shows anger it is interpreted completely differently. Men can show their “guts.” Women are not allowed to show anger because they are supposed to be nice, nurturing and kind. When subjects were asked to rank the two actors, the man was seen as higher status and more competent, and offered 50 per cent higher salary. The woman was seen as out of control.

There are ways to reduce bias in the workplace. The first is to be aware of your own biases. Then you can take steps to eliminate them and so reduce discrimination.

Second is accountability.  Decisions need to be justified, with objective indicators. Be aware that every piece of information can introduce bias. How the call for applications is made – certain words will attract or discourage women. What information applicants are asked for, including photos, can matter. Who does the initial screening, and is it objective or just personal opinion?  Are the screeners different from the interview panel?  Are the same interview questions asked of all candidates and is the information aggregated independently? Are validated psychometric tests used (e.g., the most used test in the business world, the MBTI, is actually useless; it has no predictive validity).

Data is also key, it allows us to track what is happening, reveals unconscious bias and creates awareness.

Finally – men. We are part of the problem but also part of the solution. If we champion the cause we can reduce these biases. This is our problem too, not just a problem for women or minorities. Taking decisions correctly is not only the ethical thing to do, in the long run it is the economical and rational thing to do.

Source: ILO

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New Social Compact

Rising human trafficking takes on ‘horrific dimensions’

MD Staff

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A new UN report published on Monday shows that human trafficking is on the rise and taking on “horrific dimensions”, with sexual exploitation of victims the main driver. Children now account for 30 per cent of those being trafficked, and far more girls are detected than boys.

The study from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC, draws on information from 142 countries, examining trafficking trends and patterns. Yury Fedotov, Executive Director of UNODC, said that “human trafficking has taken on horrific dimensions as armed groups and terrorists use it to spread fear and gain victims to offer as incentives to recruit new fighters,” citing child soldiers, forced labour and sexual slavery as examples.

While the average numbers of reported victims had fluctuated during the earlier years for which UNODC had collected data, the global trend has shown a steady increase since 2010. Asia and the Americas are the regions which have seen the largest increase in the numbers of victims detected, which may be explained by improved methods of detecting, recording and reporting data on trafficking – or a real increase in the number of victims.

Most victims of trafficking detected outside their region of origin are from East Asia, followed by sub-Saharan Africa: whilst there has been an increase in the number of convictions for trafficking in these regions, the study concluding that large areas of impunity still exist in many Asian and African countries, and conviction rates for trafficking remain very low.

Trafficking for sexual exploitation is the most prevalent form in European countries, whilst in sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East, forced labour is the main factor driving the illicit trade. Women and girls make up most trafficking victims worldwide: almost three-quarters of them are trafficked for sexual exploitation, and 35 per cent (women and girls) are trafficked for forced labour.

Armed conflict the focus

The main focus of the report is on the impact of armed conflict on trafficking. In conflict zones, where the rule of law is weak, and civilians have little protection from crime, armed groups and criminals may take the opportunity to traffic them. One example given in the study is the phenomenon of girls and young women in refugee camps in the Middle East being “married off” without their consent and subjected to sexual exploitation in neighbouring countries.

Addressing human trafficking is a key part of the UN Sustainable Development Agenda, requiring Member States to monitor progress in tackling the problem, and report the number of victims by sex, age and form of exploitation.

However, significant gaps in knowledge remain, with many countries in sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia and some parts of East Asia still lacking sufficient capacity to record and share data on trafficking in persons. “This report shows that we need to step up technical assistance and strengthen cooperation, to support all countries to protect victims and bring criminals to justice, and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals,” said Mr. Fedotov.

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