Social Issues: Behind the Scenes

A Foster Mother: Healing Abused Children

The Independent
London, 1986, 855 words; extracts
Versión en español
Copyright

This profile was written for the publication of Jeanette Roberts’s biography by Claire Lorrimer. Roberts began fostering abused children several decades before the topic was widely acknowledged, identified or investigated. Today, thirty years later, when the old "walk-on-by" attitude to the problem is being widely questioned in the UK, much of her thinking is still relevant.

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Argentina’s Disappeared Children: Carla Artés

Marie Claire
New York & London, 1999, 2,000 words; adapted extracts
Copyright

Carla Artés was found by her grandmother, Satcha, after living the early years of her childhood under a false identity created by her "parents". Her real parents were among those who "disappeared" during the Argentinian dictatorship, and in 2005 she was to become one of 200 witnesses in a trial that revealed the collaboration of high-ranking military staff in the "disappearances". Carla's and Satcha's courage made a deep impression on me.

At the end of the article is an update.

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Cybertown: Villena’s Virtual Town-Hall

European Magazine
London, 1996, 900 words; extracts
Copyright

In the mid-1990s I read about a "virtual" town-hall in Villena, a small town in Alicante province where the distant past and the future rubbed shoulders. I wanted to find out what that meant on the ground. Twenty years later the project has moved forward – see the update.

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Madrid’s Shanty-Towns: Cañada Real

Big Issue
London, Edinburgh & Dublin, 1997, 1,350 words; extracts
Version de langue française
Copyright

I visited Valdemingómez with Manuel Martinez Ramírez of Presencia Gitana, the organization that took up the case of this shanty-town. From that visit came this article. By then the European Commission had begun to investigate. Juan Goytisolo, the novelist, took up the issue, petitions followed and, in 1999, the residents were resettled. The problems in Valdemingómez remain interesting years later because they refigured those to come elsewhere in Europe as economic recession brought pressure upon Gypsy or Roma communities. See update.

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Picassent, a Mixed Prison Wing

Marie Claire
London, 1994, 2,000 words; adapted extracts
Copyright

Europe's first mixed prison wing was set up in Picassent, just south of Valencia city. To write this article I spent a day there with photographer Veronica Janssen. The claustrophobia of prison life closed in on us in just a few hours - it was humbling to see how the prisoners dealt with it.

Also see: The Ballads of Cordoba Gaol

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