//South African school wrong to ban nose studs of an Indian Girl

South African school wrong to ban nose studs of an Indian Girl

Thursday, 6 July 2006, BBC News,

The overturning of a South African school's ban on wearing nose studs has been welcomed by human rights lawyers.

An appeal court found that the ban was unfair and discriminatory. The family of Sunali Pillay, 15, said the nose stud was part of her Hindu tradition.

The Durban Girls' High School does not allow students to wear jewellery, except for ear studs and watches.

The ban was initially upheld by an equality court, set up to fight against discrimination after apartheid.

Sunali's mother, Navi Pillay, said she was "delighted", reports The Mercury newspaper.

"I have a voice and it was heard. I feel so vindicated."

"This does not give pupils a licence to do whatever they want at school, but it is definitely a clear message to school boards that the days of putting everyone in the same mould and practising religious and cultural intolerance is over," said attorney Fritz Gaerdes from Lawyers for Human Rights.

The school had originally written to the Pillay family, saying it was not obliged to "accommodate idiosyncratic practices".

Sunali was given 10 days to remove her nose stud last year or be expelled.

Pietermaritzburg Appeal Court Presiding Judge Dumile Kondile said the ban constituted "arbitrary, unlawful, unreasonable and unjustifiable" discrimination.

He also said: "If some pupils consider it unfair, it is incumbent on the school to instil in them the value of cultural and religious tolerance."