Seattle becomes first US city to outlaw caste discrimination after council vote

Feb 21 (Reuters) – Seattle on Tuesday became the first U.S. city to outlaw racial discrimination.

The move addresses an issue of concern to the region’s South Asian diaspora, particularly the Indian and Hindu communities. India’s caste system One of the world’s oldest forms of rigid social stratification.

“The struggle against casteism is deeply connected to the struggle against all forms of oppression,” said Indian American Seattle City Council member Kshama Sawant.

caste system Thousands of years ago and allows many privileges to the upper castes but oppresses the lower castes. The Dalit community is at the bottom of the Indian Hindu caste system and is treated as “untouchables”.

“Race discrimination doesn’t just happen in other countries. It’s faced by South Asian Americans and other immigrant workers in their workplaces, in the tech sector, in Seattle and in cities across the country,” Sawant said in his office. Introduced a plan to ban caste-based discrimination in Seattle.

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Caste discrimination was outlawed in India 70 years ago, but several studies in recent years have shown that bias persists, including among lower castes. Underrepresentation in higher paying jobs.

Although India has outlawed untouchability, Dalits still face widespread abuse across the country, where their efforts to move upward in social mobility have sometimes been reduced to violence.

The debate on the hierarchy of the caste system is controversial in India and abroad, and the issue is intertwined with religion. Some say discrimination is now rare. The Indian government’s policy of reserving seats for students from lower castes in top Indian universities has helped many tech jobs in the West in recent years.

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Activists against caste discrimination say it is no different from other forms of discrimination, such as racism, and should therefore be outlawed. US discrimination laws prohibit race discrimination but not outright casteism.

Kanishka Singh reports in Washington; Editing by David Gregorio

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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