UK: School sends girl, 14, home for wearing a Sikh bracelet

A teenager has been excluded from school for wearing a religious bangle.

Sarika Singh, 14, refused to remove her Sikh bracelet, known as a Kara, because she feels it is “a constant reminder to do good”.

A spokesman for the school in South Wales confirmed that a pupil had been temporarily excluded for failing to accept a governors’ ruling.

Aberdare Girls School has a strict uniform policy which prevents pupils from wearing any kind of religious symbols.

Muslim girls are not allowed to wear headscarves at the school and all pupils are prevented from openly displaying their faith.

Despite the rules, the youngster’s mother Sinita said the family are seeking legal advice in an attempt to challenge the ecision.

Mrs Singh said her daughter would happily remove the bangle for wood, metalwork and gym classes, for safety reasons.

But the 38-year-old wants Sarika to be allowed to wear the Kara at other times and says her calls have been backed by local politicians and the Sikh Federation.

Earlier this week, Mrs Singh had a meeting with the school and argued her daughter’s case with the board of governors but they refused to allow her to wear the bangle.

She said: “It’s not jewellery, it’s part of our faith and symbol of our belief.

“We feel very strongly that Sarika has a right to manifest her religion – she’s not asking for anything big and flashy, she’s not making a big fuss, she just wants a reminder of her religion.”

The Kara is one of the five essential symbols of Sikhism, known as the Panj Kakaars, or five Ks, which are worn at all times by devout Sikhs.

The iron bangle acts as a visual reminder not to commit sins and is the last thing Sikhs would look on before committing a sin with their hands.

Sarika was first excluded on Monday and then asked to leave classes for a fixed period yesterday.

The school’s governors rejected the girl’s request to wear the bangle after examining the uniform policy and human rights legislation in detail.

The teenager said of the bangle: “It’s very important to me, it constantly reminds me to do good and not to do bad, especially with my hands.”

Mrs Singh said she would do “whatever it takes” to change the decision and pointed out that the family had the full support of the Sikh Federation.

It was revealed last month that a school in West Sussex had banned Christian pupils from wearing chastity rings but allowed Sikhs to wear religious bangles.

Christian pupils at Millais school were furious at what they said was discrimination after the school said all rings were against its no-jewellery policy.

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(Listed if other than Religion News Blog)
The Daily Mail, UK
Nov. 6, 2007
Nick McDermott

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This post was last updated: Wednesday, November 7, 2007 at 10:43 AM, Central European Time (CET)