Hindus are urging Western Australia (WA) Equal Opportunity Commission to take up the case of Hindu teenager expelled from Aranmore Catholic College in Leederville (Perth, Australia) for wearing a tiny nose stud, and provide her legal advice.
Distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, urged Acting WA Equal Opportunity Commissioner Dr. John Byrne to undertake this issue and initiate investigation as a “Community Project” if he and the Commission were serious about promoting “equal opportunity and prevent discrimination”.
This was the poster case of how minority communities and religions might be silently enduring discrimination and harassment in WA and not standing up and filing complaints for fear of repercussions; Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, indicated.
It was shocking for the hard-working, harmonious and peaceful WA Hindu community, who had made lot of contributions to the state and society, to receive such signals of maltreatment; Rajan Zed noted.
Zed also urged WA Minister for Education Suzanne Mary Ellery and Minister for Multicultural Interests Paul Papalia to investigate the uncalled-for intimidation and tormenting of this 15-year old defenseless “good student” Sanya Singhal and denying her the right of education; if the WA government was really interested in celebrating cultural diversity as claimed.
Rajan Zed appealed to Australian Human Rights Commission and its President Rosalind Croucher also to get involved as this kind of unfair treatment might happen to minority religious communities across the country. It would help every Australian feel “included”, Zed added.
It was a case of blatant discrimination and denying the right to this Hindu teenager to express her religious and cultural identity freely. She was apparently honoring the tradition of her family, who were reportedly of India descent, by putting a stud in her pierced nose. Nose piercing and nose ornaments had been a tradition of women of India for centuries and the Hindu goddesses had been depicted wearing nose ornaments, Zed said.
This unilateral action of the College against Sanya, simply for following her religious beliefs and sincerely believing that wearing a nose stud was part of her religion and culture, was heartbreaking for the Hindu community; Rajan Zed pointed out.
Zed further said that they respected the school dress code policy as long as it did not violate the traditions and beliefs of the pupils. Noses of girls in India were usually pierced around puberty and it reportedly found mention in ancient Ayurvedic text. Old architecture and paintings of India depicted the presence of tradition of nose ornaments and Indian poets had been singing their praise.
Equal Opportunity Act 1984 is meant to promote equality of opportunity in Western Australia and to provide remedies in respect of discrimination. Its objectives include “to promote recognition and acceptance with the community of the equality of persons of all races, regardless of their religious or political convictions”.