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International Left Handers Day 2019: Is bias against left handers 'the last acceptable bigotry'?

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By Euronews
International Left Handers Day 2019: Is bias against left handers 'the last acceptable bigotry'?

From struggling to use scissors, smudging handwriting and being passed documents to sign on the wrong side, the difficulties of the left-hander are as numerous as they are under-appreciated.

Today’s awareness day seeks to address that by recognising the 10% of the world’s population that leads with the left.

Abuse of left-handers is described as “the last acceptable bigotry”, but this bias is not anything new.

For example, the Latin word “sinister” is originally said to have meant “of the left side” only later becoming “evil”.

Religion also appears to have played its part in undermining left-handers.

In Islam, the right side is associated with male sexuality and moral good, while the left represents evil. Also, it has been a custom for Muslims to use the right hand to eat and the right foot to enter the mosque while the left hand has served to blow the nose or clean up when defecating.

In Hindu culture, the left hand has also been used to clean up after going to the toilet and handing something to another person with this appendage is considered to be a subtle insult.

Meanwhile, in Christianity, Jesus is sitting on the right side of his father and Lucifer is called "the left hand" of God.

Left-handedness was vigorously oppressed in medieval Europe and oppression lasted until the 1970s, according to

“As late as the 1960s and 1970s, Catholic school teachers in particular routinely inflicted corporal punishment and psychological pressure on left-handed students, ranging from accusations of being in cahoots with the Devil to — bizarrely — being Communist,” the website says.

“Soviet bloc countries continued to maintain strict policies against left-handedness that persisted well into the 1970s. Spain, Italy, Yugoslavia and the Iron Curtain countries all made right-handed writing compulsory in school. In Albania, left-handedness was actually declared illegal and was punishable as a crime.”

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