Towards the eradication of aporophobia

The First International Congress on Aporophobia, held on October 30 and 31 in Barcelona, brought together more than 250 academics, social researchers, workers and members of the public administration to share experiences, scientific evidence and debates about the phenomenon of aporophobia.

Aporophobia refers to hatred, aversion or rejection towards people who live in poverty. According to Adela Cortina, creator of the term, our society is aporophobic, and having a word with which to refer to this social phenomenon allows us to become aware of it and begin to work to eradicate it.

Where we sometimes believe we see racist or xenophobic manifestations, what we actually observe are aporophobic behaviors. Aporophobia is at the root of most discriminatory phenomena. According to the Hatento observatory, 47% of homeless people in Spain have suffered hate crime. In the city of Barcelona where the congress was held, 76% of people who live on the street say they have experienced at least one situation of discrimination for the mere fact of living there. As we heard from Mouhamadou, Gaye and Estebana, three people who have experienced aporophobia firsthand, the rejection suffered is destructive: “I walked with my eyes fixed on the ground. "I already knew that no one saw me, but I didn't want anyone to notice my presence."

Aporophobia represents a problem and a democratic challenge. It not only affects the poor who suffer it but also the society that practices it by compromising the fundamental pillars of our charters of rights, such as equality or the dignity of the individual. The congress has taught us that aporophobia can take on different formats and that it is possible to begin to generate data on this phenomenon. We believe that it is essential to produce indicators that provide us scientific evidence about types of aporophobia. The congress has also served to delve into the psychological, anthropological and philosophical reasons that underlie aporophobia. We believe that it is necessary to continue delving deeper to understand more about what causes us to sustain such ingrained behavior.

Aporophobia forces us to incorporate a higher duty into our view of justice. A duty that goes even beyond guaranteeing the rights of poor people. While we fight against the causes that generate inequality and involuntary poverty, we must work for the full recognition and acceptance of the person in their dignity regardless of their economic condition. New instances and renewed ethical discourses will be needed to push and call us to work in this direction.

We believe that there is a long journey ahead to make our fight against poverty a fight for recognition and full inclusion, but we are convinced that it is worth it. As academics, social and professional organizations, we are committed to continuing walking together, creating an international research network, promoting the study and generation of evidence on aporophobia, and creating new spaces for reflection and work. But above all we call for the joining of forces to make our society aware of this problem, thus building a society where aporophobia has no place.