NEISR Report Shows Caste Discrimination in UK

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National Institute for Economic and Social Research’s (NIESR) has recently issued a report confirming that Caste and Caste Discrimination exist in the UK. The Report by Hilary Metcalf and Heather Rolfe is titled Caste discrimination and Harassment in Great Britain and was published officially on 16 December 2010. The Report was commissioned by the UK Government.

The full report is avilable here.

A summary of the report is also available here.

Some of the excerpts from the summary are given below:

Caste discrimination and harassment has not been explicitly covered by British discrimination legislation. However, the Equality Act 2010 includes the provision that, by order of a Minister, caste may be treated as an aspect of race. This research was commissioned to help inform the Government whether to exercise this power. The research 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.

The study identified evidence suggesting caste discrimination and harassment of the type covered by the Equality Act 2010 in relation to:

work (bullying, recruitment, promotion, task allocation);

provision of services; and

education (pupil on pupil bullying) .

The study also identified evidence suggesting caste discrimination and harassment which may fall outside the Equality Act 2010 in relation to voluntary work, harassment, demeaning behaviour and violence.

The caste discrimination and harassment identified in this study was by higher castes against the lowest castes.

There is no clear evidence on whether the extent of caste discrimination and harassment is changing. There are both positive and negative influences at work.

To reduce caste discrimination and harassment the Government might take educative or legislative approaches. Either would be useful in the public sector. However, non-legislative approaches are less likely to be effective in the private sector and do not assist those where the authorities themselves are discriminating. Relying on the Indian community to take action to reduce caste discrimination and harassment is problematic.

Equality Act 2010 provisions on religious discrimination cannot cover caste discrimination and harassment as effectively as caste-specific provisions would.

NIESR’s findings confirm what Dalit organisations and their sympathisers have been saying for a number of years, that is, that Caste Discrimination is a fact and way of life in the UK and that it should be covered by Equality Act 2010.

Dalit organisations are urging to press the government to enact the long overdue clause on Caste contained in the Equality Act 2010 which includes a power for government to include caste within the definition of Race.

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