Caste Away

August 5, 2009

By James King and Derek Quizon

Many members of Britain’s Indian community left their homeland to escape caste discrimination, but some say the problem still lingers

LONDON — In June 2009, at a protest rally in downtown London, 15-year-old Selina Dhanda proudly shows off a scar on her left arm that she received during a fight at the school she attends in a London suburb.

Dhanda is a member of the Ravidassi, a splinter group of the Sikh religion. She said fights like the one that left her with the 3-inch scar are common at her school, which Ravidassi and Sikh children both attend. “Last week a boy at my school from a different caste pushed me and called me a filthy untouchable,” she said, “so I knocked him out.” Read the rest of this entry »


Lost in Little Somalia

June 25, 2009


As soon as we stepped out of the Finsbury Park subway station, it was immediately apparent to Jim and me that we weren’t in the safe, touristy part of London any more. There wasn’t a McDonald’s or a Starbucks in sight, and people stared at the two of us—American journalism students with press passes and cameras, as if we were from an alternate universe.

For me, it was an unsettling introduction to an unfamiliar neighborhood. But for Jim, a native New Yorker, it must have felt as if the Victoria line train we had just stepped off had crossed the Atlantic. Read the rest of this entry »

London Back Story: Vive la Persistence

June 14, 2009


It happened again. Just when I was about to give up on a story, fate stepped in just in time to save the day.

After blindly Googling “Sikhs London” in the hopes of stumbling upon a good idea for a news story, I found a brief on the Sikh Times’ Web site urging members of the UK’s Sikh community to come to a demonstration in London. According to the site, the demonstration would take place in Hyde Park, a huge public park in central London, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The problem was that the Web site didn’t specify where the demonstration would begin, which meant our team (Daryl, James and me) would have to scour Hyde Park’s 350 acres to find it. We were also having trouble getting in touch with the organizations Caste Watch UK and Ravidassi Sabha UK, sponsoring the event, since it’s the weekend.
Read the rest of this entry »

Paris Back Story: Reporting on Le Marais

June 14, 2009


(This Report was drafted on June 9)

When it rains, it pours.

That seems a fitting way to begin my Paris back story for two reasons. First, it has been raining on and off over here, which makes the city look really gloomy and depressing.

It’s also fitting because of the way my second story seems to be going. Remember how I was waxing poetic about the triumphant feeling journalists get when they pull off the impossible? It goes both ways. Read the rest of this entry »

Unholy Union

June 8, 2009

Abuse in Ireland’s Reform and Industrial Schools

By Derek Quizon

For nearly 70 years, the Irish government turned a blind eye to allegations of physical and sexual abuse in residential schools run by the Catholic Church. Now, after a long government investigation, survivors are finally telling their stories.

Christine Buckley, one of over 14,000 survivors of child abuse in Ireland’s Reform and Industrial Schools. Photo by Bianca Tuma.

Christine Buckley, one of over 14,000 survivors of child abuse in Ireland’s reform and industrial schools. Photo by Bianca Tuma

Standing no more than 5-foot-2, Christine Buckley doesn’t look like a fighter. She is a tired, frail 62-year-old woman, overworked from years counseling traumatized abuse victims and overwhelmed by the violent memories she deals with as a victim herself. But for the past 25 years, she has fought death threats, personal anguish and a religious institution unwilling to acknowledge its own mistakes to make her story known to the Irish public. Read the rest of this entry »

Ryan Report Back Story, Part Two

June 7, 2009


The incredibly stressful and frustrating nature of journalism often makes me wonder why I continue to do it. There are days when sources drive me crazy by giving me the runaround and sometimes avoid me altogether. There are demanding editors pressuring me to overcome a seemingly insurmountable time limit. There are constant roadblocks and unpleasant surprises that make me want to leave the newsroom and begin looking into law schools with low admission standards and (relatively) low tuition.

And then, miraculously, there is that one moment when all that work pays off. The exhilarating feeling you have after finding a key source and getting the perfect interview just in the nick of time cannot be matched. Read the rest of this entry »