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Charity defends ‘inclusion guide’ that sparked fact checks – Reuters

Snopes intervened to confirm that Oxfam really called English the ‘language of a colonizing nation’ after a backlash

The new global anti-poverty charity Oxfam “inclusive language guide”, a 92-page volume presented as a must for NGOs “who must communicate in English”, sparked outrage and even fact-checking following its release earlier this week.

The guide is “based on a set of feminist principles for language use that center the power and agency of people experiencing inequality”, a press release accompanying its publication makes this clear. Terms that might offend a marginalized group are printed alongside preferred alternatives, some of which go well beyond colloquial terminology.

Instead of “Pregnant women,” for example, the guide suggests “people who get pregnant.” “The prostitutes” are replaced by “people who sell sex”; “the blind” become “visually impaired people”; “old people” And “youth” are recast as “the elderly” And “young people.” However, the document also warns that the use of the term “people” could be perceived as “patriarchal,” because “it is often misunderstood as referring only to men.”

The guide calls English “the language of a colonizing nation” in its introduction, lamenting “Anglo Supremacy” of the not-for-profit sector as “one of the key questions to be resolved in order to decolonize our ways of working and change power.” While Oxfam has “been guilty of ‘white saviour’ stories” in the past, the charity insists that it is “learn from decolonial activists to change that.”

The guide was pilloried on social media and picked up by Fox News and other outlets on Thursday. Activists have questioned the usefulness of playing language police when “women in sub-Saharan Africa have a one in 37 chance of dying during pregnancy and childbirth”, as international development researcher Maya Forstater told The Telegraph.

Even Snopes, the famous fact-checking website, stepped in on Thursday to verify the claim that Oxfam had in fact published a language manual that “advises people to avoid using the words ‘mother’ and ‘youth’.” The verdict turned out to be true, although Snopes stressed that Oxfam was not trying to “prohibit or abolish the use of these words.”

Oxfam simply doubled down on its efforts amid the backlash, taking to Twitter to defend advising volunteers to “avoid assuming the adoption of gender roles [i.e. mother and father] by transgender parents” THURSDAY. accuse critics of “crop the document” to exclude context, the charity claimed that the guide was not intended to be “prescriptive” but just be “Respectful of the linguistic diversity of the people we work with. »

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