I wrote this for Right Now about the pro-refugee movement and the toxic power dynamics within this movement.
Justice is achieved through empowering the vulnerable
by Eugenia Flynn
To change the status quo of power in society, we must privilege the voices of those directly impacted so we don’t lose sight of why we campaign for human rights. In calling for attendance at the Palm Sunday walk for refugee rights, last month QC Julian Burnside tweeted “And if you’re a woman wear a headscarf to see how people react.” In seeking a reaction from the headscarf, Burnside contributed to the disempowerment of the very people he seeks to advocate on behalf of.
By trivialising the hijab as a social experiment, whether he intended to or not, he suppressed Muslim women’s voices and contributed to an agenda of silencing refugees and asylum seekers within the ongoing debate about their own lives.
In the negotiation for power transfer to achieve equity, we must centre the voices of those directly affected so they are empowered to advocate for themselves. We must also continue to focus on the underlying causes of inequity so we can effectively achieve the goal of human rights attainment. If we are unable to abide by these two simple principles in our human rights work, then we will continue to ineffectually struggle for justice.
Read more here on the Right Now website.