Newspaper clipping – The Mercury – 30 July 2008

Pupil banned for bangle wins case

LONDON: A British Sikh teenager won a high court discrimination case yesterday, against a school that banned her from classes after she refused to remove a religious bangle.

Sakira Watkins-Singh, 14, was excluded by Aberdare Girls School in south Wales for breaking its no-jewellery rule. But she and her lawyers argued she was a victim of unlawful discrimination and Judge Stephen Silber agreed, ruling that the school was guilty of indirect discrimination under race relations and equality laws.

The teenager is now due to start back there when the new term begins in September, and will be allowed to wear the kara – a narrow steel bangle. Watkins-Singh said that she was “overwhelmed” by the finding. She was taught in isolation and segregated from fellow pupils at the school as the dispute played out.

Her family went to Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s Downing Street office last month to hand in a petition signed by more than 400 groups, both Sikh and non-Sikh, calling on the premier to show that discrimination was unacceptable.

The case came after a series of recent legal battles over religious dress in Britain. A Muslim primary school teacher, who refused to remove her veil when male colleagues were present, lost her discrimination case in 2006 but was later awarded 1 100 pounds (R16 038). – Sapa-AFP