Seattle becomes first US city to ban discrimination based on caste

The Seattle City Council voted Tuesday, 6-1, to include caste as a protected class under the city's anti-discrimination legislation,

making Seattle the first American city to do so. Caste prejudice "remains a mostly hidden and undocumented issue,"

according to a petition distributed by Kshama Sawant, the only Indian American on the Seattle City Council and a member of the Socialist Alternative party.

The petition claims that "Caste discrimination is a pervasive and grave contributor to the workplace bias and discrimination

suffered by South Asian Americans and other immigrants—not just in other countries, but here in Seattle and across the United States."

Although caste-based discrimination was outlawed in India in 1948, the country's caste system,

which divides people into social divisions based on birth, dates back thousands of years.

The ordinance that was passed on Tuesday states that the majority of the affected communities are indigenous or indentured community

members who reside in or are from South Asia, including India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and Pakistan,

where many are known by the self-designated identity of "Dalits," which means "those who have been broken but are resilient."

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