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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Warning to school in row over Sikh bangle

HUMAN rights group Liberty has given a school two weeks to let a 14-year-old Sikh girl attend classes wearing a silver bangle that symbolises her commitment to the religion.

Last week Sarika Watkins-Singh was excluded from Aberdare Girls’ School after refusing to remove the kara bangle.

The school says she is in breach of a prohibition on the wearing of jewellery, but Sarika maintains she has a legal right to assert her religious beliefs.

Yesterday, Liberty solicitor Anna Fairclough wrote a pre-action letter to the school, warning that if the matter is not resolved in Sarika’s favour within two weeks, an application for a judicial review of the decision to ban her from wearing the kara will be lodged with the High Court.

The letter, which contains the detailed legal argument that Sarika will rely on, states, “The justification which the governing body has advanced for your treatment of our client does not begin to reach the standard required for a measure which discriminates contrary to [sections of the Race Relations Act 1976 and the Equality Act 2006].”

Ms Fairclough goes on to state that she is, “startled that part of the justification advanced for preventing our client from wearing the kara is to prevent her from being bullied.” [Link]

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