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Romani feminists present - public statement on all forms of violence against Romani women and girls

We, Romnja from different regions and countries of Europe make this statement with reference to: the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women, the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence, the European Parliament Resolution on the Situation of Roma Women in the European Union (2005/2164(INI)) and the OSCE Decision nº 7/14 for Preventing and Combating Violence against Women

We are following the work of other Romnja activists and feminists who have been vocal in raising awareness about the issues concerning us. Reaffirming the role of Romnja as valid partners, we join the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence Campaign, starting from November 25th, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, to call for justice and responsibility to end all forms of violence against Romani women and girls.
We acknowledge that women belonging to different ethnic and/or minority groups experience and suffer from the effects of the intersecting systems of prejudice and discrimination, including different forms of violence.
Power relations and inequalities within Romani ethnics (reflected also in the feminization of poverty) affect women’s access to housing, education, social services and health care. Mortality rates are dramatically high among Romani women due to severe health conditions.

We also emphasize that violence on the basis of gender and ethnicity is not being equally experienced and survived by Romani women. This depends on the position of the survivor: her age, sexuality, social status or class, religion, etc. Violence against Romani women is exacerbated in the situations of conflict and post conflict.
We express our concern for the high prevalence of different forms of violence against Romani women deeply rooted in patriarchal relations and anti-Gypsyism. Instances of violence that we face are systemic and are atrocious demonstrations of inequality. Violence against Romani women range from silent prejudices to the extreme brutality of forced sterilizations. High femicide rates, forced marriages and teenage pregnancies are still prevalent within some communities.

Nevertheless, social injustice should never be justified by culture and/or religion.

We demand the acknowledgement of the intersectional discrimination affecting Romani women in relation to their access to social services, such as women’s shelters. We urge the European Parliament and other EU institutions to facilitate, raise awareness and legislate for the designing and implementation of institutional equal treatment plans with a specific attention to the needs of Romani women. We still face different forms of violence on a daily basis. This is why we claim the right to freedom from violence, as a basic human right.

We understand that our invisibility, and the lack of involvement of Romnja in decision-making processes in key institutions at all levels and in all spheres further marginalize us. Invisibility is frequently the basis for justification of Romani women’s rights violations. We believe that it is necessary to include Romnja feminist perspectives into policy making processes and other intergovernmental and state mechanisms in order to ensure collective rights of Romani women across Europe. We urge for effective, inclusive and intersectional policies at European and national level.

While reminding states of their obligation to prevent and combat all forms of violence against women, we demand justice and express the need for including Romnja feminist’s voices
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Opre Rromnja!

Patricia Caro Maya
Anna Csilla Daróczi,
Jelena Jovanovic
Manjola Veizi
Vera Kurtic
Linda Maria
Cristina Raducan
Laura Bosnea
Carmen Gheorghe
Seijan Fejzula

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