India it seems has experienced an outbreak of rape and other forms of violence especially against its Dalit (once known as ‘untouchables’) community. Whilst the Caste system has blighted India for centuries this recent upsurge has coincided with the election of the Hindu nationalist party the BJP and there is concern that ‘upper-caste’ supporters of the party may be protected from prosecution.
Whilst we might think the problem is restricted to a country thousands of miles away, there is a worry that the discrimination of caste has been introduced and practiced in the UK by some in the Indian community. Recognising this the Government accepted that Caste should be treated as an aspect of racial discrimination and acknowledged it in the Equalities Act in 2010. However the Government held back from implementing this aspect of the legislation after coming under pressure from India and ‘high-caste’ Indians.
The UK is a very liberal civic society. The practice of Caste, like FGM, has no place within it and fear of upsetting cultural sensibilities or even foreign governments should not be allowed to prevent us doing what is right. Various anti-caste/Dalit organisations recently held a demonstration outside the Indian High Commission concerning the anti-Dalit violence and presented a statement to the UK Government calling for it to implement the anti-Caste discrimination within the Equalities Act. The National Liberal Party and Nations without States supported both initiatives.