A 14-year-old Sikh girl has won a High Court claim against her school for discrimination, after it excluded her for breaking its ‘no jewellery’ policy. Sarika Singh, from Cwmbach, south Wales, was excluded by Aberdare Girls’ School in November 2007 for refusing to take off her religious bangle.
However, the High Court ruled the bracelet was an expression of Miss Singh’s Sikh faith and she was a victim of unlawful discrimination. The school said it would consider the judgement ‘in detail’.
As a result of the judgement, Sarika is allowed to return to the school in September, wearing the Kara bracelet. After the judgment she said, ‘I’m so happy to know that no-one else will go through what me and my family have gone through and no other pupil will ever get banned from wearing their Kara again. I just want to say that I am a proud Welsh and Punjabi Sikh girl’.
The judge rejected claims by the school that the bangle, which he said was less obtrusive than some watches, could be seen as a ‘symbol of affluence’. He said many watches which were allowed at the school were more expensive than the simple plain steel Kara.
Other discrimination cases fought out in the classroom in recent years include:
In 2004 girls at Icknield High School in Luton, Bedfordshire, were given the go-ahead to wear Muslim headscarves. The decision came after a prospective Muslim pupil at the school found that hijabs were not on the approved uniform list, forcing a review of policy.
In 2005 Denbigh High School won a court of appeal battle to prevent a girl wearing a head-to-toe religious dress – the jilbab – at school.
In 2006 Madani High School in Leicester announced that non-Muslim girls at the faith school would be required to wear head scarves regardless of their religion. The school, which is required by law to accept 10% of non-Muslim students, said that all pupils would be required to cover their heads while at school.
In 2006 a British Muslim teacher who refused to remove her veil in a primary school during lessons, lost her discrimination test case against Headfield Church of England junior school in Dewsbury, but was awarded £1100 for victimisation in the way the dispute was handled.
In 2007 Millais School in Horsham, West Sussex, successfully defended allegations of discrimination at the High Court brought by a girl told to remove a ‘purity ring’ signifying that she does not believe in sex before marriage.
In 2007 a 13-year-old Catholic pupil at the Robert Napier School in Gillingham, Kent, was told not to wear a crucifix on a chain because it breached health and safety rules. Teachers told her that she could wear a crucifix as a small lapel badge, but not on a chain.