Direct vs Indirect Discrimination
There exist a number of differences between Direct and Indirect discrimination. Discrimination, in general, can be defined as the action of treating an individual unfairly on grounds such as sex, race, religion, etc. For an example, if an individual is not provided the same opportunities that are being provided for other individuals, then it can be considered a case of discrimination. Our history bears evidence, to a number of instances, where discrimination against races, religion, and even sex has taken place. When speaking of discrimination, there are mainly two forms. They are direct discrimination and indirect discrimination. Both can happen in various situations such as in schools, work places and even on the streets. These treatments may be unlawful when such discrimination violates the law.
What is Direct Discrimination?
First, when examining direct discrimination, it happens when an individual is treated unfavorably because of one’s personal attributes such as sex, race, age, disability or parental status. This is very straightforward and can affect the person being discriminated greatly. In many societies, different forms of discrimination can be observed. The caste system can be taken as an example. Within most South Asian countries such as India and Sri Lanka, a caste system operates. This leads to stratification in the society. People, who belong to higher castes, are treated with respect and honor, whereas those belonging to lower castes are discriminated. Even the lifestyles, behaviors and opportunities that individuals gain are screened through this caste system. This highlights that direct discrimination is always deliberately perpetrated. The common victims of direct discrimination are individuals possessing a greatly noticeable difference among a group. Let us take another example. Within the corporate setting, women are discriminated greatly. Even if a woman has the potential, experience and capacity to gain a promotion, in most occasions, the woman does not get promoted. Instead, a less experienced male figure gets the opportunity. This is called the glass ceiling effect. The woman is discriminated because of her sex. Since she is a woman, most males assume that the woman may be incapable to handle the stress and manage the work. This highlights that the very womanhood becomes a source of discrimination. This can be understood as direct discrimination.
What is Indirect Discrimination?
Indirect discrimination happens when a certain policy or regulation appears to deal with all people equally but has the result of affecting a certain number of people in a negative, unfair manner. A regular policy seems neutral and harmless, but it has a discriminatory result against certain types of individuals. For instance, restricting endorsement to staffs that are permanent and full-time or laying off contractual staff can be considered as examples. This is because while it appears to be a regular policy, indirectly it affects some individuals in a negative manner. Not only within the industrial setting, even certain national and regional policies have this effect. Especially the provision of certain aids to the heads of the household within poverty stricken families can be taken as an example. In such families, if the man is only the nominal head, but not the actual head it is discriminatory. The woman has to play the role of the breadwinner and also engage in the household activities. So the provision of aids to the household head does not relieve the amount of work of the women. This is an indirect form of discrimination. Indirect discrimination is not always deliberately perpetrated. Victims of indirect discrimination are concerned with a cluster or group, wherein their rights have been violated.
What is the Difference Between Direct and Indirect Discrimination?
- Direct discrimination is always deliberately perpetrated whereas indirect discrimination is not always deliberately perpetrated.
- Direct discrimination is hard to prove compared to indirect discrimination, which can sometimes lead to ordering legal actions.
- Direct and indirect discrimination can violate the right of certain individuals and groups. Once proven, the aggressor may go to jail and has to pay for bail, which is usually of a big amount.
1.”Mechanic at work seattle” by Seattle Municipal Archives [CC BY 2.0] via Wikimedia Commons
2. Poor_Woman_of_the_Village by Gustave Courbet [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons