Racial Harassment and ‘Caste-based Discrimination’ in Higher Education survey

Communication from Dalit Solidarity Network UK

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has launched a formal inquiry into racial harassment of staff and students in publically funded Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) in England, Scotland and Wales. The inquiry will look at how easy and effective the routes for reporting racial harassment are in HEIs, and how effectively reports are dealt with. In order to assess this, the inquiry wants to hear from all HEI staff and students who have experienced, witnessed or helped in an incident of racial harassment since September 2015.

Will this cover caste-based discrimination?

Yes, we believe this is an important opportunity to submit examples of caste-based discrimination and harassment experienced by staff and students in Higher Education Institutions, including universities, colleges of higher education and further education colleges (a full list of UK HEIs is here).
Caste is not specifically named in the inquiry because it is not listed as an explicit ground of discrimination in the Equality Act 2010. However, the Government believes that caste discrimination is already covered by race discrimination in the Equality Act 2010.  The Government position is: 

·         No-one should suffer prejudice or discrimination on any grounds ‘including any perception of their caste’

·         Caste discrimination is race discrimination where the claimant can show their “caste” is related to their ethnic origin, which is itself an aspect of race discrimination in the Equality Act’ (UK Government statement, 23 July 2018).

Why should I participate?

If you have experienced a form of racial harassment based on your perceived caste, this is an important opportunity to demonstrate to the Government that caste-based discrimination is occurring in HEI and must be addressed. This evidence will strengthen the case for Government action to eliminate caste-based discrimination and can be used by advocates to put pressure on the Government to act. 

How can I participate?

You can participate by completing the survey below for students.  Anyone can participate who has experienced, witnessed or helped in an incident of racial harassment (including caste-based discrimination) since September 2015 in a Higher Education Institution. The survey should take around 15 minutes to complete.

Complete the racial harassment survey for students (link to Smart Survey)

The deadline for submission is Friday 15 February 2019.  A full report will be issued in the Autumn of 2019.

What is racial harassment?

Racial harassment is a form of race discrimination prohibited by the Equality Act 2010. Racial harassment occurs when someone engages in unwanted behaviour which is related to a person’s perceived or actual race, and which has the purpose or effect of:

•violating that person’s dignity
•creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for that person
Racial harassment can take many forms but can include:
•verbal or physical abuse
•insults and name-calling
•bullying and threatening behaviour
•damage to property
•displaying or sharing racially offensive material
•encouraging others to commit racist acts
•deliberately excluding someone from activities or conversations
These incidents can take place in a variety of settings, including online.

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