Oppression is a significant issue in societies that continue to maintain unequal status quo. People have been victims of oppression despite various reforms implemented. Their state has spurred development of the anti-oppression approach that is continually replacing the traditional work models. The growing complexity of anti-oppression approach has been considerably driven by a range of social movements including ethnic, racial, feminist, and gay movements (Baines, 2011). These movements focus on challenging prevailing inequality in the society through anti-oppressive practice. It is important to note that challenges may fail and can distress a group of people that are challenging and the ones being challenged. The anti-oppressive theory is deeply ingrained in the practice which is based on the social model of difference. The practice develops models of differences such as gender, race, etc. which are built on an environment with unequal social relationships. Thus, social workers adopt the anti-oppressive practice to conform and change unequal structures in the society.
A critical aspect of challenging inequality involves gaining self-awareness and a deep insight into how social environment of the worker affects communication between the worker and a group of challenged people. The habit of self-reflection and critical thinking is vital to the anti-oppressive practice. Social workers that reflect are more knowledgeable of their inner self which helps in preparing them for executing anti-oppressive tasks. Self-knowledge is a key component of the skills required by social workers. For the workers to be successful in the practice, they have to reflect themselves and ways in which their biographies impact their practice relationships. The ability to analyze oppression in the society requires social workers to assess how cultural and personal issues lead to difficulties experienced by services users (Baines, 2011).
With a clear understanding of human rights and cultural issues, social workers can know themselves which can help to realize the effects and causes of prevailing oppression in the society as well as ways to address these issues (Collins, 2010). These rights include freedom of expression, right to life and property, and right to security from discrimination. Nevertheless, oppression continues to dominate the world often driven by governments that are in the United Nations (UN) and legislated to safeguard human rights.
As a social worker, I have encountered many forms of oppression directed at people who cannot defend themselves. On one occasion, I took a person to a hospital to determine whether he had Cancer. During the appointment, the person who was to be checked at the hospital was ignored by the doctor. Instead, the doctor directed all questions and information at me. Despite telling the doctor to communicate with the person, it seemed according to him that the patient was unable to engage with anyone coherently. It is unfortunate that in spite of educated people in such institutions, oppression still exists albeit in subtle forms. I have also seen medical professionals ignoring a patient expressing physical pain. They are simply dismissed as being delusional despite the kind of distress they are facing.
While oppression and empowerment are key components of social work practice needed to achieve social justice, they do not define basic requirements for human life. This should compel social workers to perceive people who have to defend themselves when oppressed by dominant powers. Reflecting on their biographies enables to understand the underlying issues and put themselves in the shoes of the oppressed people (Dalrymple, 2007). As a result, the social workers can be effective in using human rights to fight oppression. They also gain awareness of human rights which help them make governments accountable for such violations of rights.
Baines, D. (2011). An overview of anti-oppressive practice: Roots, theory, tensions. Doing anti-oppressive practice: Social justice social work, 2, 1-24.
Baines, D. (Ed.). (2011). Doing anti-oppressive practice: Social justice social work. Fernwood Pub.
Collins, S., & Wilkie, L. (2010). Anti-oppressive practice and social work students' portfolios in Scotland. Social Work Education, 29(7), 760-777.
Dalrymple, J., & Burke, B. (2007). Anti-oppressive practice.
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