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The Sikh Coalition Avaaz
November 19, 2010

Bay Area Civil Rights Report Highlights Local Sikh Issues

Fremont, CA (November 2010) - "As a mother, I will repent for the rest of my life that I cannot bring back my son's childhood..." These are the words of a Bay-Area mother who recalls the incidents of violence, vandalism and fear her family endured. The worst part is the incidents occured just because they are Sikh.

Though it has one of the largest populations of Sikhs nationwide, California's San Francisco Bay Area is an uneasy place for many of its residents. Research released this month indicates that Sikh children in the Bay Area experience disproportionately high rates of bullying in school, starting at the elementary level. In addition, parents are also frequent targets of verbal and physical assaults and employment discrimination. 

The research is presented in the Bay Area Civil Rights report published by the Sikh Coalition earlier this month. The civil rights report is the result of a survey project conducted by the Sikh Coalition over the last two years, including more than 1,300 Bay Area Sikhs. The effort marks the first time local Sikhs had been surveyed about their civil rights concerns.

The results were startling:

  • 69% of Sikh boys who wear patkas or dastaars have been harassed in school
  • 2 out of 3 Sikh boys in middle school report being harassed because of their religion or ethnic identity

  • 38% of Sikhs surveyed have been called a racial or religious epithet
  • 12% of Sikhs report being refused employment on account of their religious identity
  • 1 out of every 4 turbaned Sikh men believe they have been unfairly stopped or questioned by a police officer, airport employee, security guard or transportation service  employee
The report makes it clear that there is a large gap between the promise of the law and the experience of the Sikh community in the Bay Area. To address these disparities, the report makes specific recommendations for government and businesses. 

    "This month, California celebrates Sikh Awareness and Appreciation Month. But the realities highlighted in this report indicate that our community is far from securing basic rights and resources in the state of California. In the coming months, the Coalition will work tirelessly with the community and policymakers to bridge the gap between our rights and our reality," said Neha Singh, Western Region Director of the Sikh Coalition. 

    The Coalition would like to thank the San Francisco Foundation for its financial support of this project. 

    To receive a hard copy of the report in Punjabi or English, please email Neha Singh at neha@sikhcoalition.org


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