I'm the Hen Ferchetan. This is my take on the world through the eyes of Wales. While mostly about Welsh politics (that most famous of dour topics!) I try to scatter some humour around, but I doubt anyone but me will find it funny! Have a read, and if it bores you then feel free to never come back!

Tuesday, 15 January 2008

Bangle Bandwagon

I see that the Bangle Girl Bandwagon has hit the Bay today, with a crowd of 5 (ok, maybe a few more!) demanding that Aberdare Girls' School allow one of their pupils to ware a sacred bangle to school, despite their no jewellery policy.

Joining the protest today were the well known student activists/Plaid AM's Leanne Wood and Bethan Jenkins. While icWales claims that the protest had "cross-party support" they're the only two who's names I've seen so far.

Leanne said:

"I’m still astounded that the school has not been prepared to reconsider their
original decision"
Personally I couldn't disagree more. If the school has decided to ban all jewellery, then that means all jewellery, be it for religious purposes or to look slutty. The whole point of school uniforms is, surprisingly enough, to keep people uniform (the clue is in the name!). If Leanne wants to allow special exemptions to religion, what about the girl who turn up at school next month with a French flag pin, insisting that her national heritage is just as important to her as Sarika's religion?

To state that this is an issue of human rights, as Dr Rachhpal Singh Randhawa of the Valleys Race Equality, has, is ludicrous. Do we have a human right to wear whatever we want where ever we want? Tell that to the thousands of non-religious kids who hate their blazers, or to those working behind the counters at McDonalds!

Even if you do feel that religion should be granted "special status", there's still something not quite right about this bandwagon. The protesters, who are taking the school to court, insist that the bangle is an integral part of their religion and must be worn at all time. A brief look at Sikhism confirms that they are correct, the Kara is one of the five K's which must be worn at all times. So surely if wearing this bangle is such an issue of human rights, the 14 year old girl would always be in possession of the other 4 as well, right?

1. The uncut hair (Kesh) - although I haven't seen any pictures of the girl in question I have no doubt that her hair is uncut and that in it she has...

2. The wooden comb (Kanga)

3. This is the Kara, the banned bangle

4. Cotton underwear (Kacchera) - This is a 14 year old girl we're talking about - I'm not even going to hypothesis on whether she wears the Kacchera!

5. The sword (Kirpan), Yes, that's right, SWORD. I wonder if this girl carried a sword to school with her everyday? Now, as I understand things, many modern Sikh's carry a small dagger style Kirpan since carrying swords has become a bit of a faux pas. Others have compromised further and carry a ceremonial Kirpan, not dangerous in anyway. It wouldn't surprise me to find out that this is what this girl carries. I call it a compromise because the Kirpan is supposed to be for a Sikh's self-defence, clearly a ceremonial non-dangerous version is no use in the face of an attacker.

If Sarika had attended school with a full blown sword along with her bangle this whole affair would seem a bit more sincere, as it is I just have that niggling feeling that this is a fight people like Liberty, the Race Equality groups and the Student Activist AM's were looking for well before Aberdare Girls' School made their decision.

Discussions on whether the School were right or wrong may be moot however, Rhondda Cynon Taf Council have withdrawn their backing for the school and will not assist them further. With legal fees mounting there's a real possibility the school will have to back down to save money.

That would be a travesty. If it happens then I'd advise all the girls pf Aberdare to go to school wearing whichever clothes they want, be it short skirts or pink fleeces. If the school admonish you for it, simply attribute it to your personal religion - who are they to say that Sikhism is more important than whatever God you decide to follow (The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster is a personal favorite)


Anonymous said...

Two Conservatives were also at the protest - Nick Bourne and Andrew RT Davies.

Hen Ferchetan said...

Thanks anon - neither icWales nor the BBC named anyone but for Leanne Wood, i heard Bethan Jenkins on the radio and no mention of the other politicians present.

So did cross-party just mean Plaid and Tories then?

johnny foreigner said...

It appears to me that this young lady is suffering from a touch of religious convenience.

She states that she is willing to remove the Kara....

""Steel bracelet. A symbol to remind the wearer of restraint in their actions and remembrance of God at all times,""

....for sports or craft activities on health and safety grounds.

Consequently, therefore, she chooses to defy the basic tenets of her Religion and presumably, seeks not to restrain her actions in these particular sessions, or could it be that H&S is a more powerful religion?

Further, it appears to me that a certain amount of eyebrow plucking has taken place on the images of her that have been published. This is in contravention of her Religious rules.

""Every male should add "Singh" after his name and every female Khalsa should add "Kaur" after her name. They must never remove hair from any part of their bodies.""

This young lady's name has, so far been given as Watkins-Singh, Singh, and now, due to her devotion, should be Kaur. A slight identity crisis IMHO.

Here's another problem.

"" The Khalsa will remain distinct by wearing the Five K's but shall not injure the feelings of others professing different religions.""

It would appear that this young lady now seeks to injure the feelings of others by insisting on wearing her religious symbols, knowing full well that her fellow pupils are not allowed to wear theirs.

The passages indicated ""....."" are extracted from The Sikhism Home Page with absolutely no permission whatsoever. I expect they'll sue me now. Gotta catch me first.

Your pal.


landsker said...

There is a growing call to stop the practice of forced religious indoctrination.
Whereby, children would be allowed to reach the age of sixteen, before being "culled and stamped", by the religion of the parent.

To steal an old phrase.
"Religion is found by the masses to be true, the wise to be false, and by the government, to be useful.