Swiss teenagers face more racism

Several hundred people took part in an anti-racism demonstration in the central Swiss town of Schwyz in April after a group dressed up in Ku-Klux-Klan costumes at the carnival there in March. © Keystone / Urs Flueeler

Some 38% of Swiss youngsters have been victims of discrimination, according to the latest government report - 10 percentage points more than two years ago. The comprehensive report of the situation in Switzerland underlined hate speech on the internet and structural problems in the workplace as key issues.

This content was published on September 2, 2019 - 19:30

On Monday, the government released a 186-page report on racial discrimination in Switzerland covering the 2017-2018 period, with a special section dedicated to the role of internet and social media.

Among young people, 38% of 15- to 24-year-olds said they had faced discrimination, compared to 28% in the last report in 2016.

The report attributes this in large part to rising hate speech and bullying on the internet. In the preface, Interior Minister Alain Berset writes: “The Web has become a sounding board that makes it possible to spread hatred and incite people to racism.”

When considering all ages, the share of people who say they have been discriminated against is 28% - a stable figure, according to the authors.

Job hunting and in the workplace

Most cases of discrimination occur in the world of work, both when job hunting and in the workplace. As the workplace is considered an important part of integration, the report calls this finding “dramatic” and calls for more measures to address workplace discrimination.

Muslims are particular victims of negative comments, the report said.

One in three people surveyed said they were bothered by people perceived as being “different from them”.

In all, 59% of people questioned said racism was a serious social problem in Switzerland. At the same time, the same percentage said existing measures to tackle discrimination were adequate.

Structural flaws

Nevertheless, the government report points to the need for structural changes, particularly at work, in the search for housing or in public life – so that all people can participate equally in the life of our society, regardless of their ethnic origin, nationality or religious affiliation.

The report, however, did note the growing number of civil society organisations active in tackling racism, which it sees as a positive development.

The report is based on various sources, include a survey carried out every two years by the Federal Statistics Office called “Living in Switzerland” that captures personal experiences as well as opinions of different groups and overall racism in the country. It also relies on observations of counselling centres and court decisions and official government statistics.

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