Genocide, or the mass murder of specific groups of people, is something that most consider to be a thing of the past, citing the Jewish holocaust and Nazi regime that ended over 60 years ago. Unfortunately, the concept of genocide is alive and well in the current state of world affairs. Moreover, it is important to note that genocide has farther reaches than those of mass death, extending into severe turmoil for those left alive.
Top 10 Facts Everyone Should Know about Genocide
- Genocide leads to mass poverty. As seen in German ghettos under the Nazi regime, and in Rwanda’s, Bosnia’s and Herzegovina’s staggering poverty rates, genocide is not a stand-alone issue but rather one with many other branches of issues.
- Genocide promotes poor infrastructure. When citizens cannot afford basic sustainability or are too poor to contribute to the tax pool, things such as well paved roads and access to electricity become luxuries and not expectancies. Healthy and functioning infrastructure promotes an overall health in an economic system. However, where infrastructure is lacking, it is sure to impact personal financial success and vice versa.
- Genocide increases crime statistics. Because genocide increases the likelihood of living in poverty, genocide indirectly increases the likelihood of crime. According to Marcus Felson, a criminologist, developing countries have more severe poverty than developed countries. Developing countries lack affordable access to advanced security tools that exist in developed countries, such as home security systems, which deter crime. With less reliable protection against crime, citizens may find themselves in an environment where crimes are easier to commit.
- Genocide disrupts schooling. Genocide devastates every aspect of an impacted community. Some major disruptions include weakened infrastructure, which in turn devastates school systems and access to education.
- Genocide creates a lack of workforce, inhibiting a functioning economy. The most obvious result of genocide is a decrease in prior population. When this is paired with a weakened infrastructure and widespread poverty, the economy suffers greatly as there is reduced resources available to invest.
- Genocide goes hand-in-hand with poor government systems. As seen in Nazi Germany and the genocide of over six million Jewish people, genocide is linked to totalitarian government regimes, similar to what is seen in modern day North Korea. Moreover, genocide paves the way for unstable governments to take power for extended periods of time. This is seen in current day Bosnia and Herzegovina, where corrupt government officials are rampant.
- Genocide cripples healthcare systems. Pre-civil war Rwanda had high rates of HIV/AIDS. However, due to sexual violence associated with the war, the rates of HIV/AIDS increased even further. The Rwandan government become nearly destitute from the war and consequently had a limited resource pool to draw from in order to treat citizens. Another example is seen in Bosnia and Herzegovina, where a devastated health care system from the Bosnian War still pervades.
- Genocide targets minorities before any other group. This is likely due to the “black sheep syndrome” that sometimes pushes minority groups to the fringes of society, not wholly integrating or fitting in with the larger society. This makes it easy for minority groups to be identified and targeted.
- Genocide leaves impacted societies vulnerable for many years after. While it is intuitive to assume that a society will not simply “go back to normal” when a genocide has ended, this is caused not by fiscal challenges but overall social distrust and emotional poverty, symptoms of the larger trauma. This is evident in nations like Rwanda, Bosnia and Herzegovina, where tensions and vast poverty are still present many years after the genocides.
- Genocide can be prevented. Genocide does not come about by a single factor, but rather by many single decisions to ignore humanity in others. Every single person has both the opportunity and the responsibility to treat others with respect and dignity. Each person is a factor in deciding what kind of world we all live in and everyone can choose what kind of impact to make. Choose kindness.
Due to the causes of genocide being varied and complex, these are only the top 10 facts everyone should know about genocide and not a comprehensive list. However, no matter how much information is gathered about genocide, the most imperative thing to take away is that no small action or thought is too small to matter. Every action and all thoughts contribute to what the future holds. Everyone makes a difference.
– Alexandra Ferrigno