[Brussels, 26 March 2013] Today, the European Parliament hosted a very important seminar on Romani women and gender-based violence within Romani communities, an issue which is rarely addressed. The event was organized by the Daphne project EMPOW-AIR - Empowering Women Against Intimate partnership violence in Roma communities. After two years of collaboration between partners from Spain, Bulgaria, Romania and Italy, EMPOW-AIR delivered a series of European political recommendations on preventing and tackling violence against women in Roma communities. Today’s seminar was an instrumental momentum for NGOs and Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) to share concerns and demands on the issue of violence against Romani women.
Several MEPs came to the event to support the work of EMPOW-AIR and discuss future action on the issue.
Raül Romeva I Rueda (Spain, Greens), Mikael Gustafsson (Sweden, GUE), Carmen Romero López (Spain, S&D), Lívia Járóka (Hungary, EPP), Verónica Lope Fontagné (Spain, EPP), Kinga Göncz (Hungary, S&D) and Renate Weber (Romania, ALDE) shared their concerns about the future of the Daphne Programme, which is currently the only EU Programme supporting projects on ending violence against women. They alerted on the detrimental impact of the crisis and austerity measures on violence against women in general, and on the ability for Romani women in particular to escape from such violence. The current funding cuts affect both NGOs and public services supporting victims and preventing violence against women, and create conditions whereby women are rendered more economically dependent from their partner and/or family, including in Roma communities. The recent EU actions were mentioned as good steps, but progress still depends on Member States’ political will to address violence against women and to protect Romani women and girls (such as for the European Protection Order or the directive on victims’ rights). MEPs also shared their concerns about the blockage of several directives in the Council, including the directive on anti-discrimination, and the lack of EU Strategy on Roma Inclusion.
The European Women’s Lobby was invited to develop its views on the issue: EWL Policy Officer and Project Coordinator Pierrette Pape presented the EWL position paper ‘Tackling multiple discrimination of Romani and Traveller Women – a crucial factor for the successful implementation of the National Roma Integration Strategies’. In a context of growing anti-Roma racism and of backlash against women’s rights, Romani women run a higher risk of being exposed to all forms of violence against women. They particularly suffer from some forms of male violence, like intimate-partner and domestic violence. Young Roma girls face arranged marriage, forced marriage and child marriage, which are human rights violations and expose them to sexual abuse and exploitation, while damaging their educational and employment opportunities. Trafficking and prostitution are also a great threat for Romani women. Ethnic minority women are over-represented in the population of prostituted persons in the EU, in particular Roma, as the systems of prostitution exploit all forms of inequalities, mainly sexism and racism. Roma represent from 40 to 80% of victims of trafficking in Bulgaria, Slovakia, Romania, Czech Republic; in Amsterdam and Zurich, Romani women represent from 80 to 99% of the women prostituted in Hungary.
The EWL pointed out the crucial need for an EU framework on equality between women and men, which forms the base for all actions aiming at fighting all forms of inequalities between women and men. The current EU Strategy on Gender Equality runs until 2015 and includes violence against women as a priority, but should be more specific in the future and make sure that the diversity of needs and experiences of women are taken into account in all policies, so that Romani women and girls are not left out. In parallel, the EU must continue to fight racism and all forms of discrimination, at school, in the workplace, in health care, in decision-making, etc. The EWL is happy to count one Romani women amongst the mentees of its innovative Mentoring Programme.
EMPOW-AIR recommendations include all the issues discussed during the seminar: in order to put the issue of male violence against Romani women on the EU political agenda, EMPOW-AIR demands:
- A EU Directive to combat violence against women
- An EU gendered anti-discrimination legislation and/or framework
- A gendered EU framework for National Roma Integration Strategies
- Ensured EU funding
Click here to download the political recommendations. To find out more about the project and read the comprehensive recommendations for the prevention, detection and intervention ‘Tackling male violence against Womani women’, visit EMPOW-AIR website. EMPOW-AIR parnters are: SURT Fundació de dones (Spain), Fondazione Giacomo Brodolini (Italy), Fundación Secretariado Gitano (Spain), International Centre for Minority Studies and Intercultural Relations (Bulgaria) and Gypsy Women Association For Our Children (Romania).