Caste and its subsequent discrimination tends to move with South Asians who have relocated to the United Kingdom. Caste discrimination is visible among the South Asian communities in UK. The 1950s, 60s and 70s saw a wave of migrants from Asia to UK. It has been estimated that people of South Asian origin in UK constitute around 4 percent of the total population i.e. around 2.3 million.
Some religious groups are mainly from the lowest castes communities, namely Ravidassia, Valmiki, Ramdasis and Ambedkarite Buddhists. A majority of Christians who have migrated from the Indian sub-continent also belong to the Dalit community. Unofficial estimates put the number of Sikhs in Britain at around 500,000, with one-third estimated that 250,000 Dalits live in the UK. Nonetheless, the exact figure is unknown due to issues regarding identification as ‘Dalit’ and also because of lack of caste data in census.
Here, untouchability is practiced both in the form of direct and indirect discrimination. Discrimination is included in the areas of employment, education and religious institutions, access to goods and services, and particularly in relation to access to temples. The more direct forms of discrimination manifest themselves in various forms of violence and public harassment.
This deeply entrenched form of discrimination is also very much a part of the Diaspora communities in the UK. In the UK, communities, to maintain caste lines, strictly follow the system of arranged marriage. This has led to the continuation of the caste system within the South Asian diaspora in UK.
The caste system is prevalent in a variety of forms in the UK, but it has not received much recognition from the government. There is almost no legislation, or safeguards, apart from the Equality Act 2010, which identifies caste-based discrimination in order to counter it. The government acknowledged the existence of caste discrimination, but initially preferred a community education program to legislation.
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