Seattle becomes the first US city to ban class discrimination after a council vote

Feb 21 (Reuters) – Seattle became the first US city to ban class discrimination on Tuesday after its local council voted to add class to the city’s anti-discrimination laws.

The move addresses an important issue for the South Asian diaspora in the region, particularly the Indian and Hindu communities. India class system It is among the oldest forms of strict social stratification in the world.

“The fight against caste discrimination is inextricably linked with the fight against all forms of oppression,” said Kshama Sawant, an American Indian City Council member of Seattle.

caste system Its history goes back thousands of years It allows many privileges for the upper castes but oppresses the lower castes. The Dalit community is at the lowest rungs of the Hindu caste system and they are treated as “outcasts”.

“Class discrimination doesn’t just happen in other countries,” Sawant said at her desk. “It’s faced by South Asian Americans and other immigrants working in their workplaces, including in the technology sector, in Seattle and cities across the country.” He introduced a motion to ban class discrimination in Seattle.

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Caste discrimination was outlawed in India more than 70 years ago, yet the prejudice persists, according to several studies in recent years, including one that found people from lower castes were Underrepresented in higher paying jobs.

Although India outlawed untouchability, Dalits still faced widespread abuse across that country, as their attempts at upward social mobility were sometimes violently suppressed.

The debate over the hierarchy of the caste system is contentious in India and abroad, with the issue intertwined with religion. Some people say discrimination is now rare. Indian government policies that reserve seats for underclassmen at India’s top universities have 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 therefore should be banned. US discrimination laws prohibit ancestral discrimination but do not explicitly prohibit caste.

Coverage by Kanishka Singh in Washington. Editing by David Gregorio

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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