British Asians Rally to Outlaw Caste Based Discrimination in the UK
In Parliament Square, Westminster, London, SW1P 3AA
On Monday, 4th March, 2013
Caste is associated primarily with cultures of the Indian sub-continent but sadly this culture has also embedded itself into British Society. Caste is a vehicle for social control and oppression in the Indian-subcontinent, where, hardly a day goes by when Dalits don’t fall victim to murder, arson and rape. Exposure to British values of justice and fairness has not helped the migrant communities who continue to regulate their lives based on Caste. Over the decades, Caste practices have given rise to Caste inequality, prejudice, oppression and discrimination previously unheard of in the UK.
‘Caste discrimination and harassment has not been explicitly covered by British discrimination legislation. However, the Equality Act 2010 includes a provision [Section (9) (5) (a)] that, by Order of a Minister, caste may be treated as an aspect of race. The National Institute for Economic and Social Research (NIESR) was commissioned to help inform the Government whether to exercise this power. The research commissioned by the government sought to identify whether caste discrimination and harassment in relation to aspects covered by discrimination legislation (i.e. work, education and the supply of goods and services) exists in Britain. Evidence suggesting such discrimination and harassment was found. (Source: Government and Equalities Office, RESEARCH FINDINGS, No. 2011 / X).’
What Is Happening Today?
Today, the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill will discuss an Amendment to the Equality Act 2010 in the House of Lords to outlaw Caste Discrimination in the UK.
What is the present position?
NIESR published its report 2 years ago. The Government is yet to provide an official response on it. However, the campaign continues and sympathetic Peers are working hard to include ‘(d) Caste’ after section 9(1)(c) to make a new Clause Caste’ after section 9(1)(c) to make Caste a protected Characteristic in Law.
Could Caste Discrimination not be covered under existing legislation?
During the passage of the Equality Bill, the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) argued that Caste was covered by existing race and religious discrimination provisions, making an express prohibition of Caste discrimination unnecessary. In light of the evidence provided by NIESR, in 2010, the EHRC made a statement that it supports the enactment of Section 9 (5) (a) of the Equality Act 2010.
What is the Government’s Position?
The Prime Minister, David Cameron says that ‘legislation would involve the Government asking every employer, school and service provider in the country to accept potential liability for preventing caste discrimination…‘.
Lord Avebury writes ‘they already have this duty for the other protected characteristics, and it does not appear to have been a significant burden. The Government has not sought to repeal any of the existing characteristics on those grounds‘.
Minister for Equalities says, ‘we obviously do not think that anyone should suffer prejudice or discrimination, whether it is because of caste or any other characteristic. Such behaviour is wrong and should not be condoned whether or not it is prohibited by legislation‘.
What are we asking the Government to do?
‘All we are asking Parliament to say is that in the Equality Act 2010, ‘race’ includes caste as well as colour, nationality and ethnic or national origins‘.
Why are we asking for your support for our Campaign
Caste discrimination is the single largest systemic human rights violation existing in 132 countries and practiced by 1.5 billion people, including 860,000 in the UK. The UK EHRC supports the implementation of Section 9 (5) (a) of the Equality Act 2010. Department For International Development (DFID) equated caste with the intergenerational poverty of 1/3rd of the global poor, Dalits, whose poverty is caused by caste discrimination.
The World Council of Churches (WCC) and the Vatican selected Dalits and Caste Discrimination as the theme for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (WPCU) throughout 2013. Many Sikh, Buddhist, Hindu and Ravidassia and non-faith based Communities support the call to outlaw Caste Discrimination.
The UK has a glorious tradition amongst the world’s civilised nations for championing human rights, democracy, women rights, equality, fairness, justice, integration and development.
This demonstration is internationally supported by simultaneous delegations/ Rallies to British High Commissions/ Embassies in the capitals of several countries around the world.
We appeal to the democratic and equality sense of the British people and world citizens to support the campaign and request the UK government to declare caste discrimination illegal, as it did to Abolish Slavery and Apartheid, thus advancing the cause of Dignity, Freedom and Human Rights.
04, March, 2013.
[Via Eugene Culas, Voice of Dalit International (VODI)]