Tag Archive for: discrimination

‘Nothing about women without us’ – Xiomara Castro, President of Honduras

The health of Portuguese women over 65 is worse than men, the 2021 report from the European Institute for Gender Equality claims. Only 12% assess their health positively (versus 18% in men) and 68% declare to have limitations in daily activities (56% in men). Healthy life expectancy in Portugal is 72 years for women, one year less than for men!

The report also looked at the issue of domestic violence and revealed that every two in three Portuguese women are victims in the domestic space, confirming the recent statement of UN Secretary-General António Guterres that ‘lockdowns and quarantines are essential to suppressing Covid-19 but can trap women with abusive partners’.

It is estimated that around 6,500 ethnic-minority women over 15 years of age might have been subjected to female genital mutilation. Last year health Portuguese professionals detected 101 cases. The practice is considered a crime and punishable by a prison sentence of up to 10 years.

Women face greater barriers in their careers than men and the labor market should become more inclusive. These are the main conclusions of the study Diversity & Inclusion last summer. Two-third of working women view they have barriers in their professional progression whereby gender issues continue to be the most penalizing factor. Further aspects in which women feel discriminated against in their careers are remuneration (less payment for the same work) and ethnicity (more job rejections in non-Caucasian women).

Covid-19 has exacerbated existing inequalities that disadvantage women. Sectors most affected by the pandemic are those with a high level of women workers, including the restaurant and hospitality business as well as the travel sector. 

In 2020, 35 women were murdered, 19 gender-based. There were also more than 50 femicide attempts, according to the Observatory of Murdered Women. In the first 10 months of this year already 14 women lost their lives.

Since domestic violence became a public crime in 2000, the police reported more than 215,000 cases in the last 20 years. Although overall the number of complaints remained the same, the number of detainees increased in the last two years by almost a third.

In the next blog – scheduled for January 2022 – you will find out that not all is doom and gloom with women in Portugal.

BOAS FESTAS               HAPPY HOLIDAYS                   (pic Público/Sapo)

Paint the grass the color you want, it will always be grass  –  Gypsy proverb

‘When other children discover that I am a gypsy, they start cursing and shouting that we are worth nothing’, says 11-year-old Lindinho Cambão. ‘But we are not really that bad.’

Prejudices about gypsies are very persistent. They are said to be stealing, begging, criminal and asocial.
Originating from Northern India, the Roma migrated some 500 years ago to the Iberian Peninsula where they are marginalized and discriminated ever since. In Nazi Germany, gypsies were exterminated in concentration camps, just as Jews and homosexuals.

‘If a gypsy takes a seat on the bus, his fellow passenger will anxiously hold his bag’, says Idália Serão, MP of the Socialist Party, whose grandfather was Roma. ‘Ethnic minorities – like gypsies and blacks – are excluded in our society and only become visible when problems occur.’ Parliament, university and media are overwhelmingly white.’

In Portugal, 80% of the estimated 50.000 Roma has no regular income and 60% lives on benefit. The youth is poorly educated. Only a third has completed primary school and 15% is illiterate (more girls than boys). Girls tend to marry very early– at the age of 13-15 years – and get their first baby on average at 19.

Housing is dramatic with 20-30% of the families living in precarious conditions. Neighbourhoods like Bairro das Murtas in the center of Lisbon – without water and electricity – and Bairro da Torre in Loures, on the outskirts of the capital, are famous in that respect.

An investigation by the FRA (Fundamental Rights Agency) amongst gypsies in Europe last year, revealed that nearly half of the Roma population in Portugal feels discriminated, most notably in the areas of public service, work, and healthcare.

Pedro Calado – High Commissioner for Migration – sees progress in the integration, albeit changes are slow. ‘Visits to crèches increase as well as women’s participation in literacy courses. More than 90% of the Roma families have a GP nowadays and the vaccination coverage in children is over 70%.’

Last year Leonor Teles, a 23-year-old Portuguese film director whose father is Roma, won with her Rhoma Acans ( Gypsy Eyes) in Berlin the Golden Bear Award for the best short film.


Bad people don’t sing  –  Gypsy proverb

BOM FIM DE SEMANA                                                                      Have a great weekend


‘Portugal is one of the most racist countries in the EU’ – European Social Survey

– ‘No one has ever said to me that I could not rent the house because I’m black

Mamadou Ba is born in Senegal and has the Portuguese nationality. He is graduated, has a steady job at the Parliament, and speaks with a slight African accent. When he is calling for an apartment in Lisbon’s Parque das Nações neighborhood, he gets an appointment 2 days later. Although the tenant promises him to send an SMS with additional information, he never does. If shortly thereafter a journalist of the newspaper Público– with a Portuguese name and a Lisbon accent – calls the same tenant, he immediately gets the necessary information by phone and an appointment for the next day. In only two out of five phone calls, Mamadou and the journalist were treated the same way.

– ‘It’s hard for blacks to find a job. There’s always a preference for whites.’

Amélia Costa is born in Guinee-Bissau and in possession of a Portuguese passport. When submitting her application for a management position, she doesn’t include a photo in her CV. After a call from the director of Human Resources, she is invited to an interview.
On entry, the director stares at her in amazement. ‘Apparently, he was expecting someone else’, she says.
The interview is going well and Amélia gets the job. When she asks the director at a later stage, why he looked so surprised when they first met, he says ‘the person I called and the person I met, didn’t seem to be the same’. ‘Since you speak without an accent, I didn’t expect you to be a black person. If you had submitted a photo with your CV, I probably would never have called you for an interview’, he confessed.
‘In Portugal, you hardly come across black people in leading positions or in the media. You’ll find them back office, in factories, kitchens, and supermarkets. We are not even given a chance to get to know us’, she explains.

– ‘The presence of black lecturers in the academic community is nil

‘It isn’t true that social class eliminates racism.
‘If I come somewhere, where I’ am the only black person, I will be discriminated.
It’s no question of social discrimination, it’s the color of the skin’.
‘I’ll give you some examples’, she explains in Público.

‘When I return at the airport from a trip abroad, they often direct me to the line for Non-European passports and my luggage is nearly always checked by customs’. ‘Once I entered a meeting and heard a colleague – a bit too loud – say: ‘I don’t understand what that black one is doing here.’
And something that happened to me recently in the Santa Marta hospital, when I asked for a particular department and someone showed me the way. ‘When you see an indication that says Outpatients, you turn right – can you read?’
Inocência Mata is the only black professor in the Faculty of Arts at the University of Lisbon, where she is teaching since 1990.


When I was stopped by the police and asked them ‘why’, the officer said ‘a black man is always suspicious’ – José Fernandes, legal advisor.

In Portugal, prisons are painted black! Of every 10 prisoners, 9 (90%) are Africans. If you are from Cape Verde, the situation becomes even worse, as 15 times more Cape Verdeans than Portuguese stay in jail. Compared with these figures Afro-Americans are relatively better off. In the US black people are ‘only’ 5 times more likely to be imprisoned than their fellow Americans.

‘These numbers are shocking’, says Alípio Ribeiro, an attorney from the Criminal Investigation Department and confirm what he already thought: ‘there is a legal system for whites and a legal system for blacks’.
‘You can’t just derive from these data, that black people are more criminal. It is much more likely that black people are locked up easier. Apparently little is needed to put them in prison.’

Approximately 1% of the population – 100.000 people – originates from the former Portuguese colonies in Africa, most of them from Cape Verde. The majority lives around the capital, in deprived neighborhoods, like Amadora and Sintra. Their exact number is unknown as collecting ethnic data is prohibited by Portuguese law.

Already in 2014, the Immigration Observatory indicated that sentences are tougher when committed by black Africans. Information from the General Directorate of the Department of Justice (DGPJ) and recently disclosed by the Portuguese newspaper Público, shows that black Africans indeed get the maximum sentence twice as often for offenses like robbery and domestic assault.

Celso Manata, head of DGPJ, however, rejects the idea that the legal system is discriminatory. He admits that there is an over-representation of blacks in Portuguese prisons, but believes that ‘this is caused by the poor socio-economic circumstances of black people, who therefore are more likely to commit a crime’.

‘In a society aimed at keeping an eye on certain communities, it is not surprising that the number of prisoners from these communities will be greater’, declares José Semedo, a lawyer at the National Immigrant Support Centre.
’Both our legal and prison system are much more aggressive to black people’.This is also reflected in the fact, that black people often have to serve their time and hardly get remission. ‘These findings clearly demonstrate that black prisoners are not getting the best defense and therefore stay unnecessary long behind bars.’


“Ik zat met zwarte kinderen op de lagere school, met een paar op de middelbare school en met geen enkele meer op de universiteit” – Joana Gorjão Henriques.

“Dieper, kun je er nu onder komen?” Het was half vier in de middag en op de hoek van de Avenida Almirante Reis en de Rua Alvaro Coutinho lag de stoep naast het stoplicht open. Er werd blijkbaar aan een kapotte leiding gewerkt. “Nee, niet daar, iets meer naar links.” In de kuil twee Afrikanen in versleten kleding met een schop in de hand. Het zweet stroomde over hun zwarte gezichten. Boven hun hoofd stond een slordig groepje van vijf of zes ongekleurde Portugezen in gele verkeershesjes met een sigaret in de mond aanwijzingen aan de kuil te geven. Op de stoep een oud, wit bestelbusje waarvan het portier openhing. Erin een forse, witte man met een enorme buik en een rode helm op het hoofd, die zat te bellen terwijl hij in de verte staarde.

Hoeveel donker gekleurde Afrikanen er precies in Portugal wonen is niet bekend. De overheid registreert namelijk alleen nationaliteit en geen etniciteit. Hun aantal wordt geschat op bijna 100.000, waarvan verreweg de meeste afkomstig zijn uit de ex-Portugese koloniën Guinee-Bissau, Kaapverdië en Angola.

Veel zwarte Afrikanen zijn werkeloos of krijgen onderbetaald. Er is ongelijkheid op het gebied van onderwijs, burgerrechten, gezondheidszorg en er is sprake van sociale segregatie, waarbij Portugezen met een Afrikaanse achtergrond in de oudste en slechtste wijken wonen. In de gevangenissen zitten 15 keer zoveel gekleurde Afrikanen dan ongekleurde Portugezen.

Een nationaal platform van 22 actiegroepen, onder leiding van SOS Racisme, wijst de Portugese regering al jaren op het feit dat er veel discriminatie en racistisch geweld tegen zwarte Afrikanen bestaat. Zij willen dat er meer gegevens verzameld worden over etniciteit om de specifieke problemen van minderheden in beeld te brengen. De overheid, die geneigd is de ogen te sluiten, ontkent racisme tegen zwarte burgers en verdedigt het standpunt, dat het verzamelen van etnische gegevens in strijd is met de Wet bescherming persoonsgegevens.

Wel kleur in nieuwe regering.
Maar er zijn ook hoopvolle ontwikkelingen. Zo heeft Portugal sinds verleden jaar voor het eerst een gekleurde premier met voorouders uit Goa – hij wordt mede daarom ook wel de “Gandhi uit Lissabon” genoemd – en is de minister van justitie een zwarte Afrikaanse vrouw, geboren in Luanda, Angola.

Geniet van het weekend    –    Tenha um ótimo fim de semana