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Weddings between minors is one of the greatest problems of the romani people

14 January 2010 / 09:01:25  GRReporter
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Under the title “I am European Romani, I am European” representatives of 34 countries in Europe met in the congress center Zappeion in Athens as part of the Second World meeting of the women Romani, which was organized by the Council of Europe with the cooperation of the Greek network for support of the Greek gypsies and the Ministry of interior. 

Posters with sketches were hanged on the walls of the congress hall portraying how the women are stealing, reading people’s hands and are getting married at an early age, however the logo over the sketches was saying “I am not like this”, which is also the answer of the women romani gathered at Zappeion.

The marriages of infant children is an important issue of the romani communities, says for the “Etnos” newspaper Eleni Tsetsekou, who is responsible for the problems of the romani in the Council of Europe. “Here we give the opportunity to these women to speak about this problem because they want to change this practice which deprives young girls of their right to educate themselves and to make freely their decision to get married” adds also Mrs. Tsetsekou.

The marriage at early age was a common phenomenon in the 19th century for most Europeans. “Marriages between minors are not part of the culture of the romani people, but are a result of a culture related to poverty and social isolation” says the representative of the Council of Europe. 

In the beginning of the congress spoke the deputy minister of interior Theodora Tsakri and Mrs. Nyamko Sabuni, minister of integration and gender equality in Switzerland. On the other side the representative of the ROM network and mayor of Trikala Mr. Tamilos emphasized that there are romani communities in 220 municipalities in Greece and that measures for support of educational programs for romani and their integration on the labor market are very needed. He also said that he is shocked by the statement of the Czech representative Elen Gorolova who is 41 years old and who said that she was obligated to become sterile.

“I am a photographer and mother of three children. I passed the seminars training of the town hall and got involved in programs of the ministry to learn how to work with a camera” tells 31 years old Greek romani woman Evangelia Boiadji. She says that it is very important to create in the municipalities structures helping romani people to continue school and learn a profession in order to find a job.

31 years old Swiss of romani origin Ramona Muto is a journalist and mother of two children. She says that in Switzerland things are very different than in most European countries. “In my country nobody makes a difference between the citizens and opportunity is given to everyone in spite of their skin color, origin or age. I am here to unify my vote with this of the other romani women and help for the change of their life in all European countires. I am sure that the calm power of women could turn into a power of change of our community and the way society sees us and presents us to the media”.

Tags: Society romani people marriage education
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