February 3, 2020
The online matchmaking service Shaadi.com is facing accusations in the UK that it allows discrimination against scheduled castes — illegal but still prevalent in India — but denies the charges, a British daily reports.
Founded by Anupam Mittal in the 1990s, Shaadi.com claims to be the “world’s oldest and most successful matchmaking service” and offers community-specific matrimonial services — it is not alone among Indian matchmaking websites in doing so — with dedicated pages for dozens of such groups.
This weekend, The Sunday Times said a Shaadi.com profile made for a Brahmin user “was not offered scheduled caste as potential matches unless they adjusted their preferences to include all other castes”, raising questions “about whether the site’s algorithms are consistent with equalities law”.
A lawyer who spoke to the Times said such caste-based restrictions could be in violation of a 2010 UK law that streamlines equality legislation and deals with protection from discrimination of many types, including racial.
But a spokesperson for Shaadi.com told Times the website had no in-built bias and that it was “not in violation of any act”.
A briefing on the UK Parliament’s website says the Equality Act 2010 required the government to “introduce secondary legislation to make caste an aspect of race, thereby making caste discrimination a form of race discrimination”.
But in 2018, the British government decided that caste discrimination among Indians residents could be covered as part of emerging case law and didn’t need a separate law — a move described by CasteWatch UK as “a depressing message to the Dalits”.