The battle by campaigners to outlaw caste discrimination is set to be renewed after a woman was awarded £184,000 in unpaid wages because of her status.
Permila Tirkey, a domestic servant from India, was mistreated by a British couple because of her “low caste” a tribunal heard, in the first ever successful case based on caste.
The 39-year-old, who was paid 11p an hour by the Chandhok family, revealed last week that she worked “all day and all night, 24 hours a day, seven days a week”.
Campaign groups have told Eastern Eye they will stage rallies and crank up pressure on the government to make caste abuse illegal.
Davinder Prasad, general secretary of CasteWatch UK, was scheduled to attend a conference at Wolverhampton University in the Midlands on Wednesday (7) on the issue.
He told Eastern Eye: “Caste discrimination is abundant with bullying in schools and work places.
“This case highlights what is happening in the UK but not one organisation has condemned this.
“I am dealing with a case of a Hindu postal worker who is being discriminated against because of caste.
“Victims are suffering in silence, because there is no justice, because there is no legislation.
“People are going to start demonstrations, lobby MPs to make Early Day Motions [in parliament]. They were waiting for the election and the government to settle down.”
Activists said they come across dozens of victims suffering discrimination each year in Britain.
The caste system, developed in India thousands of years ago, divides people into groups based on birth, marriage and job.
The House of Lords voted twice for legal protection for the 400,000 dalits in the UK – known as “untouchables” – who are regarded as being of low caste.
The government has said that it is consulting on the issue and plans to add caste discrimination to the Equality Act.
The issue is back in the spotlight after Tirkey was given the compensation last month after the hearing in Cambridge, East Anglia.
The tribunal heard Pooja and Ajay Chandhok, from Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, banned her from bringing her Bible to the UK, going to church and calling her family.
Tirkey said: “In the four and-a-half years I spent with the Chandhoks, I spoke to my family about twice.
“I used to think about the phone calls I would make to my family and that kept me going. I wanted to cry but I controlled myself.”
But Chandhok, an IT consultant, denied the claims. After the hearing, he said: “She was like part of our family and we gave her everything she wanted. For all the time she was with us, we paid between £400 a month and £570 a month into her bank account.”
Mandy Sanghera, a human rights activist and government adviser, has supported victims of caste discrimination.
One is Nav, from Walsall in the Midlands, who claims she was imprisoned by her husband’s family. Her in-laws were from a Jatt background and forced her to cook and clean and never allowed Nav to eat with them.
The 26-year-old said: “I would never have had a love marriage if I was going to be treated as a slave. My parents aren’t allowed to visit me, I feel so alone.”
Sanghera said: “We need to get away from such an out-of-date cultural practice. We all belong to one race and the Asian caste system is based on jobs and careers.”
In a 2014 report, the government said it intended to make the practice illegal. “Caste discrimination is not expressly prohibited under UK equality legislation, although section 9 of the Equality Act 2010, as amended, requires the government to introduce secondary legislation to make caste an aspect of race, thereby making caste discrimination a form of race discrimination. The government has provisionally indicated this legislation will be introduced to parliament.”