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Domestic Servitude victim awarded damages in UK’s first caste discrimination claim

On 17th September, an Employment Tribunal awarded £184,000 in unpaid wages to an Indian woman of low caste kept in domestic servitude by her UK employers for 4 ½ years. 

Ms Tirkey was recruited from one of India’s poorest states as her employers wanted someone of a low caste who would be ‘…not merely of service but servile’.  Caste is a hereditary division rooted in Hindu society, based on factors such as wealth, rank or occupation. 

The Tribunal found that Ms Tirkey was subjected to unacceptable working conditions including working 18 hours a day and receiving payment of 11p per hour.  It upheld several of her claims including that she was harassed on the grounds of her race and was the victim of indirect religious discrimination.  The case is significant as it is the first time that caste was considered an aspect of race by the Tribunal. 

The Legal Aid Agency had refused to fund Ms Tirkey’s representation for 17 months which caused significant delay to the case.  Her solicitor said that the Agency suggested that the case was not of ‘sufficient importance or seriousness’ and was ‘only a claim for money.’ 

Tags
Discrimination, Slavery & Human Trafficking