Not being allowed to vote, or get an education. Fearing your home will be burned down, or your children beaten, or being thrown in jail. Because you are female, or have dark skin, or were born into a Jewish family. Or a Muslim family. Or a Catholic family. Or are gay. Or believe in peace.
To most of us it seems so obvious. It seems incredible, almost beyond belief, that in so many places in the world, people are still persecuted because of who they are. There is still discrimination here, of course, and there is still violence against women and LGBT people and Muslims. But state-sanctioned violence, institutional persecution - to me that is something far worse.
If my boss discriminates against me because I am female, I can take action. I have recourse. It might be very difficult, it might turn my life upside down, but the laws are on my side. Who do you turn to for recourse when the government itself is condoning for, even calling for, the discrimination? What if, for example, you are female in Afghanistan? What if you happen to be gay and Ugandan?
One thing you do, if you can: you try to leave.
ORAM International, the Organization for Refugee, Asylum and Migration, advocates for people fleeing sexual or gender based violence.
Among their work, they've created an innovative "adopt a refugee" program. It requires a substantial financial commitment - at least $500 - but on the other hand, that's not a fortune for a well-employed person over the course of a year.
From their website:
ORAM is a voice for vulnerable refugees who face compelling survival challenges. We are an international network locking arms across traditional divides. Like you, we are impassioned champions of human dignity and security.
We are able-bodied and disabled. Older and younger. Men, women, transgendered. Spiritual and atheist. Straight, gay and bisexual. Rich and poor. Geographically secure and displaced.
Those of us who are safe today may become refugees tomorrow. Our mission to protect one another is our greatest calling – none of us can be secure until we are all safe.
I love this statement. It seems like ORAM has great potential to change lives. Their Facebook page is here.