Why we can still talk about racism in Europe


(Cover by Nick Slater illustration)

Something I learned during my many years of studies in Human Rights is that racism, in Europe, is not limited to the discrimination of people of color. Xenophobia and the fear of anyone different has become the new form of colorless racism, a virus spreading fast through Europe due to nationalistic and far right discourses, both in politics and in the media.

But is racism really rising in Europe and if so what are the causes? Cases of racist discrimination in Europe are no longer only linked to the color of people’s skin but rather to the cultural background, religion and country of origin. People migrating from Arabic countries are very likely to be discriminated based on their culture and people of Muslim religion on their believes. However, while xenophobia is the new form of racism in the Old Continent, people of color are not out of the woods. People of African descent, in fact, still suffer of strong racial discrimination around the EU. According to the FRA ( The European Agency of Fundamental Rights), people of color still suffer of race-related violence, discriminatory police profiling, and discrimination in the search for jobs and housing.

The old myth saying that nordic countries, in Europe, are the most accepting of diversity has been proven wrong by statistics. Finland had the highest rates of race-related harassment and violence, approximately 63% of people of color declared having suffered of some sort of discrimination due to their skin color. Racist violence was at 14% in Finland, the highest in the EU.

When it comes to police profiling, on the other hand, Italy comes among the first EU countries to be arresting or questioning people based on ethnicity and skin color. Around 70% of people of color interviewed in Italy reported being stopped by the police unjustly due simply to their appearance. Italy scores first on another challenging issue, that of housing. Along with Austria, Italy is among the first countries in the EU that discriminated people of color when it comes to access to housing.

That being said, it is important to clarify that EU countries don’t have the same racist attitude towards the many different ethnic identities. A Survey of the 28 EU countries shows that people may react differently is their daughter was marrying a person of African descent than if she was marring a person of Arab descent. Lets take into considerations the few countries we have already mentioned first. Finland, for instance, seems particularly inclusive when discussing inter-racial marriages with people of color, showing positive attitude (70-79% of respondents in favor). When asked about marriages with people of Arab background, however, people seem to change their minds completely on tolerance, only 30-39% of respondents in favor. Italy seems to be in a similar position, being more tolerant with black/white interracial marriages and less prone to Arab-European unions. Even Sweden, a country that classifies very high for its low levels of racial discrimination, has a slightly less positive response to allowing their children to marry a person of Arab origins. You can see the maps yourself in the lower graphs published by the Bezzelford site in 2017.

We can agree that racism in Europe comes with different color shades and is not solely focused on skin color per se. How many times do we hear people saying “I’m not racist, but…”, as if the fact that they do not discriminate based on skin color justifies their discriminatory comment?

With the refugee crises and increased mixed migration flows (a term that will better defined in following articles) people of different ethnic backgrounds suffer greatly from increasing racial hatred and intolerance, often spread by populist movements. Discriminatory comments and racial slurs have been freed from their taboo status and legitimized by politicians in power who gain political attention thanks to their intolerant views and fear-spreading skills. International and regional human rights instruments protecting people from discrimination are no longer implemented in certain EU countries and institutions themselves feel entitled to violate international law based on the demagogic discourses of public figures and the large spread hatred on social media.

Can we do something about it? Yes. Human rights education is the key. People should be informed about international treaties and instruments legally bounding states to defend people from racial discrimination in all sphere of life. We should make sure these instruments are implemented nationally and respected, in the opposite case reported to the competent courts. If you wanna do more, get informed at: https://fra.europa.eu/en or https://www.ohchr.org/en/professionalinterest/pages/cerd.aspx




Today is Mothers’ day and so we decided to tackle a topic that is in the back of our minds everyday but we often decide not to talk about it; how do we start a family in 2019?

We continue to look up to our parents and think we will have a similar experience when it comes to motherhood, and parenthood in general, but research seems to say something very different .

Natality rates are decreasing very rapidly in Europe, going from 7.5 million new babies in 1970s to 114 thousands in 2016. The rate in Italy alone was cut in half, going from 990thousands to 447 thousands in less than 30 years. As we can all imagine this has been described as the perfect storm, as in only the course of one generation we might be facing the impossibility to sustain the elder generation with the forces of the new.

But what are the causes of this “Childlessness in Europe” we are faced with? (Book by Michaela Kreyenfeld)

The causes of the dropping natality rate are both personal as institutional, as research has shown. Among the main reasons we can find the instability of the labor market, the difficulty to find a stable job with a long term contract, the low salaries compared to the current costs of raising children, the lack of structures for child care, the short parental leaves and lack of proper leave for fathers, the increased cost of housing in the urban centers with most job offers. In addition to this issues which are faced by everyone wanting to start a family in 2019 there are also personal issues we should take into account. This may be the difficulty to start long term relationships in the modern times, the desire to pursue a successful career over that of starting a family, the inability to save enough money to care for another human being, the fear of raising children in a planet in deficit of natural resources.

But enough with the boring facts of statistical studies, lets think about our own lives and the conditions we are currently facing. A 27 years old girl in the 1980s, around the time our parents had us, was likely to be already married if not a mother. Today a 27 year old has probably either just found her first job or is still studying at the University. Employment rates are higher in larger urban areas so there is also a chance that a girl, in her late 20s, will be likely to relocate to a larger city. This change forces young girls to leave behind their network of family and friends, the support system needed in order to start a family. Furthermore another phenomena of our generation is the so called long distance relationship. One of the main causes of long distance relationships are relocations due to employment reasons, putting young couples in the position of either having to wait for other opportunities before starting a family or ending their relationship.

Another important factor in the life of a 27-yo today may be the difficulty to meet a partner in the caos of a new, large, urban center. The struggle of starting a stable job, swinging from one low paid internship to the other and later accepting short term contracts hoping to gain enough work experience to land a stable job eventually.

But lets look at the best case scenario. Lets say an imaginary 27 yo meets the man of her dreams in a large urban center that is not her own and in which she has no social network to help her financially and emotionally. Lets say she lands a pretty decent job with a pretty decent contract and her partner is also well employed. Lets say they can afford the rent a little better since they moved to the suburbs and commute about 50 min every morning to go to work. Lets say they can also afford a cheap day care. Now, she just recently started a career and needs to take maternity leave. National regulations don’t allow her partner to take long term paternity leave and so she is forced to put her career on pause. After three months, however, she is required to go back to work leaving a new born in the hands of a cheap day care located 50 minutes away from their work space. If she decided to quit her career to be a full time mother they would no longer be able to afford rent, or social benefits. If they moved back where their family and friends are they would likely not find employment.

A 27yo today needs to wait until she is on average 35/37 before she has the stability to have a child. That means lower fertility rates, smaller families and older parents.

When we think of motherhood we look up to our own mothers and the love they gave us. We think of the amount of attention we received and the doors they opened for us. We can’t stop wondering if we will ever be able to give our children the same kind of possibilities and if we will experience motherhood the same way women did 30 years ago.

Not just about the nipple



Feminism is the movement for women’s rights on the ground of equality of the sexes. Every day we hear about feminist groups fighting for one right or the other but many of us may not know the whole historical path that feminism has gone through since the 1900. That is why, today, we will provide a little timeline of what are defined as the four waves of feminism!

Illustration by Audrey Lee ( no rights hold)

The first wave of feminism took place in the nineteenth century and it revolved around the fight for universal suffrage. It formally began with the Seneca Falls Convention in 1848, where 300 man and women rallied for equality.

The second wave of feminism started in the 1960s and went on into the 90s. It raised during the anti-war and civil rights movement and it focused primarily on issues such as sexuality and reproductive rights of women. It was also a fight against the degrading images of women spread by the media and pop culture pageant such as Miss America. The ability of the feminist movement to speak out against patriarchy in the 1960s allowed other groups to claim their voice in the political discourse at the time. Feminist groups were able to create women-only organizations such as NOW and to spread their manifesto around the world.

An important difference between the first and second wave is that, during the first wave advocates were primarily white middle class women while the second wave accomplished to draw in women of many different class and ethnic backgrounds.

Art by Elen Winata

The third wave of feminism started during the 1990s and finds its roots in post-colonial thinking. It challenges the notions of universality and feminism in them-selves. During this wave women started to re-appropriate of sexual body images claiming the will to be “beautiful” or “sexually empowered” by choice and not forced by the patriarchy. Another important trait of the third wave is that it allowed for another important concept to raise, the concept of intersectionality. Finally the feminist movements started to realize that women of color, women of age, women of the LGBTI community, women with religious believes, women of lower economic class and women with disabilities didn’t suffer the same condition of inequality as middle class white women, but that their experience intersected with other levels of social marginalization. Intersectionality allowed the feminist movement to challenge the view of the previous waves, centered on certain issues that touched white women more than other groups, and to realize that there can be different shades of feminism within it self. Many new movements rose within this time-frame, one of which is that of Islamic Feminism ( more on the topic in future posts).

The fourth wave falls into the ara of social media and of the world wide net. It aims to reach equality through a cyber fight against the system and it builds on the concept of intersectionality developed by the previous wave. It battles for equality and against injustice in the workplace, it encourages women to speak out against harassment and body shaming, it encourages men to fight for paternal leave and to eradicate the wage gap. The fourth wave, through technological advancement, allows women to be connected with each other in order to share experiences, understand differences and spread the message.

Art by Petra Eriksson

Too often we hear people talk about feminism as either dead or useless. Many people tend to define the feminist movement as a group of narcissistic women going around with their nipples out to gain attention. Whenever I personally hear a stereotype of feminism I seriously wonder how a movement that fights for the rights of 50% of the world population can be reduced to something so meaningless by public opinion. There is not one form of feminism. It is not only the fight for women’s right to sexuality, it is not only about shaving our armpits or owning out body image. Feminism is about all the human rights in the book and their implementation when it comes to the female population. Different women, in different world contexts, in different religions and different economic conditions, may have different priorities when it comes to the feminist battle. As long as their voices are raised to improve their condition in a patriarchal society, to me, their fight is a feminist one.

There is not one image of feminism, not one illustration we can choose that would capture the whole meaning. Lets remind the world this battle is not a useless one and it surely is not just about showing our nipples.