The train incident is a result of black people being seen as a threat even when they are not

By: Edinah Masanga

The train incident in which a heavily pregnant woman was dragged and banged around by guards on a Stockholm train is not just a ‘maintaining order’ or ‘enforcing rules’ incident, it is a violent public display of how black people are perceived as a threat even if they do not pose immediate danger to anyone.

A heavily pregnant – possibly hormonal – woman could not be a threat to armed guards by any chance. The idea that she needed to be dragged out of the train forcibly with disregard for her welfare, and that of her unborn child and another she was travelling with, is borne out of prejudice and negative assumptions that could be based on race.

I am black and I do know what it feels like to live your life under the spotlight of being assumed to be illiterate, barbaric, uncivilised, uneducated, inadequate, foolish, lazy – because those are some of the strongest prejudices that we have to cope with in our everyday lives.

A heavily pregnant woman who as she says has misplaced her ticket and throws a tantrum for not wanting to take a fine should be treated with discretion.

I am not advocating for people to disreagrd the rule of law. I love my life in Sweden because of the freedoms I enjoy from the system. Now take note that I say the system. But just because the system protects me does not mean that people’s attitudes necessarily reflect the same values. People are people.

The guards in this incident escalated the situation even as the lady had started screaming. It is a lack of empathy. Honestly, who continues to manhandle a screaming, nakedly exposed, heavily pregnant woman? Someone with disregard for that same person’s humanity.

At law there is a principle of proportionality which generally states that punishment should fit the crime. I use this to illustrate that the way guards would manhandle or forcibly remove a person threatening to harm other passengers and a person who merely does not have ticket should differ.

The pregnant lady was not threatening the safety of other passengers in the train so there was no reason for that inhuman and degrading treatment.

Edinah Masanga is a Zimbabwean journalist resident in Sweden.

The video of the incident can be watched below.

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