Accurately defining the term “Roma” is a challenging, almost formidable task. There is no universally accepted definition, and the term is often used interchangeably with “Rroma”, “Gypsy”, “Traveller”, “Romani”, “Sinti”, “Ashkali”, “Manouches”, “Kalé” and other titles. This is problematic for a number of reasons.
Firstly, incorrect usage creates and perpetuates harmful stereotypes in society. For example, the media have frequently used the term “gypsy” instead of “Gypsy” displaying ignorance of their cultural identity as a recognised ethnic group. Additionally, some Roma people object to the use of the term “Gypsy” altogether perceiving it as derogatory and inaccurately linked to “Egyptian” where it was once believed Roma people had originated from.
Since the Roma Trail Campaign last year, we have been busy with our Restless Beings Roma project researching and building links with the community in the UK, all in line for an exciting project to be revealed in 2013!
Over the coming months we’ll be publishing a series of articles explaining the various issues faced by the Roma in the UK in more detail, whilst describing and evaluating the various legal and social strategies designed to tackle them.
SIXTY-EIGHT years ago to this day 3,000 Hungarian Roma were massacred in the Auschwitz Birkenau concentration camps during the holocaust. Today experts warn that their discrimination is being perpetuated with the ill treatment of Roma (Gypsies) in Europe escalating.
The independent experts on minority issues insisted that Roma Holocaust Remembrance Day, 2nd of August, should be marked with “commitment to confronting modern-day hatred, violence and discrimination against Roma and find real solutions to their persistent exclusion.”
Over 600 Roma people from Bucharest will be housed in a newly renovated apartment complex in the German suburb of Neukoelln, Berlin.
The initiative, project managed by Benjamin Marx, hopes to integrate over 100 families into the city that was once host to plans of their mass genocide during the Second World War. The project is the work of a Catholic foundation that hopes to rid the Roma of their negative image in the eyes of the German public, a quarter of whom - when surveyed in 2008 - said they would feel uncomfortable having a Roma neighbour.
Following years of discrimination, it is no surprise that the erection of a concrete wall separating the Roma community from the general Romanian public has caused controversy. The Mayor of the Romanian municipality in which the wall was built claims that it serves as a traffic accident diversion, while human rights groups fear that it has created a de facto ghetto situation, effectively...
On the 31st of May 2011, the Medway Ethnic Minority Forum organised a 'Free Roma Day' in Chatham, Kent. The event was attended by various organisations who delivered workshops including a health and lifestyle team and the waste collection service among several others. The intention of the event was to make the Roma community in Medway aware of the services and amenities available to them through council schemes and deaprtments. After my colleague Zakirah and I spoke to the chairman of the Ethnic Minority Forum, I understood that this was an initiative in its early stages, and one of significant importance as the chairman felt that the forum had done much work with and for other minority communities who were now established, and the Roma community had a long way to go until we could reach the same conclusion.
What she didn’t know at the time was that this was part of an ‘ethnic cleansing’ programme initiated by the government carried out in the late 50s and early 60s. It is believed that hundreds of children were removed from their parents during that period, just like Liz, and put into care homes.
Despite being thrown into eight care homes over the course of ten years, where she was forced to forget her roots, constantly criticized and ridiculed by those around her, she still holds her heritage close and strong. After facing constant abuse from the care homes she eventually decided to run away and become a Traveller, doing cash-in-hand jobs to survive on the streets.