Indian caste system inspires Stalham author
An author has been so inspired by his experiences in India witnessing the extreme poverty and debilitating caste system that he has written a novel to raise awareness of the issue.
David Skivington from Stalham said the novel, which is currently going through the editing process and does not yet have a finalised title, is a crime thriller story which aims to raise awareness of the caste system and also human trafficking.
It follows the story of a British woman who is called to India to identify the body of her husband but she has no idea as to why he is there.
Mr Skivington said the story had been inspired by the last time he was in India, 10 years ago when he was 18, with the Baptist Missionary Society.
He said; 'Having lived in Kolkata for six months and seen the extreme poverty my view of the world was completely changed.'
He worked in one of the slums and it was there he saw first-hand the caste system and how it operated, as nearly everyone he worked with was from the Dalit caste, commonly known as 'untouchables'.
He said: 'We learned that they are seen as being below everyone else in society, due to the family or caste they are born into, and are generally denied education and basic human rights, such as being able to report a crime or enter a temple to worship.
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'Despite laws being brought in, Dalits are still treated as less than human in many places, often only being allowed to carry out jobs of cleaning others toilets as that is all they are seen as being worthy of doing.'
He also learned that a high proportion of young girls being offered as prostitutes were from the Dalit caste.
He said; 'I was so sickened by it that I have wanted to do something ever since to raise awareness of human trafficking.'
Mr Skivington was left shocked by what he saw and when he went on from university to do an MA, he based the dissertation on the Dalits and their political voice.
After completing his MA he taught RE at Aylsham High School for two years and ran an Amnesty International group, raising pupils awareness of issues, before moving to Leeds to teach where he also got married.
In 2011 he took a year off from teaching to give himself more time to focus on his writing.
Currently Mr Skivington and his wife Bhayanee are working in an orphanage school in Andhra Pradesh, India, with around 50 children who are nearly all from the Dalit caste.
He said: 'We are mostly teaching English so that when they finish here they are able to go on to school and further education as English is of great value.'
The novel is set to be released by Fisher King Publishing next spring.