The World of Stigma – Deport Vol II. Ed. 4

Escaping stigma is no easy thing, particularly when it is produced and reproduced behind the scenes by a powerful regime.

Theoretically, stigma is seen as something which bypasses fact. That is, it ignores original facts and acts to create its own reality — a “false” reality that gives the impression of being true. It creates its own legitimacy to ensure that it remains untouch–able and to guarantee its existence and sustainability in the future.

In addition, stigma never leaves any room for clarification. Empirical evidence is no longer important as stigma uses only negative symbols and images. This is why it has such power, and is so difficult to counteract.

Perhaps the explanation above is somewhat dry and lacking as it deals with stigma only on a theoretical level, but try asking former 1965 political prisoners in Central Celebes who experienced firsthand just how confining stigma is. So hard it is to shake off that even in their old age these prisoners find that many of their efforts have been in vain.

These former 1965 prisoners experienced a bitter and tragic fate. They were tortured and forced to work during their incarceration, yet upon their release they continued to face negative stigma from society as they went about their everyday lives. In actual fact, according to available data, most were innocent victims, wrongly arrested by those in power at the time. But again, stigma does not know nor allows any room for clarification.