September 07, 2021

Racial discrimination is becoming more visible in Switzerland

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Racial discrimination affects all aspects of life and is increasingly perceived as a seri-ous social problem. This is shown by the latest monitoring report of the Service for Combatting Racism (SCRA) for 2019-2020. Reported incidents of discrimination rose once again during the period under review, especially related to the internet.

The number of reported incidents of discrimination has increased in recent years, especially among younger people: 40% of all 15 to 24-year-olds (+2%) and 39% of 25 to 39-year-olds (+4%) have experienced discrimination in the past five years. Discrimination affects all areas of life, with most claims of discrimination related to employment. The increase in the number of reports reflects a greater awareness of racial discrimination. Awareness-raising and public relations work by the government and civil society actors have led to improved reporting options and increased willingness to report incidents involving discrimination.

Racist hate speech and conspiracy theories on the rise in the digital sphere

Racism and hate speech are spreading especially on the internet and on social media. Fuelled by the COVID-19 pandemic, the spread of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories in particular has increased. Systematic countermeasures are still in an early stage of development and implementation. Government and civil society actors and internet users and platform operators must coordinate ways to provide a secure, non-discriminatory and racism-free environment. The SCRA has therefore focussed its financial support for the coming years on projects that combat racism on the internet.

Racism viewed as a serious social problem

The majority of the population (58%) perceives racism as a serious social problem, and almost a third believes that more needs to be done to combat it. Recent events have stoked the social debate on racism and discrimination. As Federal Councillor Alain Berset writes in his foreword to the report: “The COVID-19 pandemic and the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement have also made inequalities and social divides more visible in our country. They focus our attention on equal opportunities and on social economic and cultural participation; and thus also on the structural causes of racism and discrimination.”

Monitoring social coexistence

The report published every two years by the SCRA uses current data to show how structural discrimination affects social life and social cohesion. As a monitoring tool and reference work, the reports make an important contribution to the fight against racism. They provide a basis for an informed discussion and assist experts and interested persons in the long-term observation of racial discrimination and the development of sustainable solutions.

The data analysis for 2019-2020 includes the results of the survey on diversity and coexistence in Switzerland conducted by the Federal Statistical Office (FSO), statistical data on important areas of life and specific sections of the population (integration indicators, etc.), as well as data gathered by advice centres and data on judgments handed down by the courts.