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Sikh teen wins U.K. discrimination claim

Image: Girl wearing bracelet
Sarika Watkins-Singh, 14, delivers a statement outside the High Court in London on Tuesday after winning her case to be allowed to wear her Sikh religious bangle at school. Watkins-Singh was excluded from school for breaking a "no jewelery" rule.Anthony Upton / AP
/ Source: The Associated Press

A Sikh teenager who was excluded from class for refusing to remove a religious bracelet at school won her discrimination claim Tuesday in Britain's High Court.

The court ruled that the school failed to promote equality when they banned 14-year-old Sarika Singh from class last year when she refused to remove her Kara bracelet — a thin steel bangle worn by observant Sikhs.

The Aberdare Girls' School in south Wales argued the bracelet broke a ban on wearing jewelry.

"I'm so happy to know that no one else will go through what me and my family have gone through," Singh said in a statement she read outside the court.

When she refused to remove her bracelet, Singh was taught in isolation from her fellow classmates for two months before being suspended in November. She lost an appeal filed with the school's governing body asking for an exception to the school's jewelry policy.

Justice Stephen Silber said in his ruling that the Kara bracelet is universally accepted by Sikhs as an important part of their religious observance. The ruling allows Singh to return to Aberdare in September and wear the bracelet in class.

The Kara bracelet is one of the five Ks — symbols that remind observant Sikhs of their devotion to the Guru. The Kara is worn as a reminder to not do anything the Guru would disapprove of.

"Should Sarika wish to return to school in September, in accordance with the judgment, she will be offered help and support to reintegrate her into the normal day-to-day life of the school," a statement from the school said.

Aberdare is 25 miles northwest of the Welsh capital, Cardiff.

The case comes a year after a British teen lost a legal challenge over a school ban on wearing a chastity ring to class.

Lydia Playfoot argued it was "unlawful interference" with her right to express her Christian faith, but Britain's High Court supported the school's contention that the ring was not an integral part of the Christian faith.