Roma women suffer ethnic, gender discrimination in Ukraine – experts

Дата: 20 September 2016
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The ethnic discrimination of Roma women is overlapped with gender discrimination in Ukraine.

As the Human Rights Information Centre correspondent reports, the experts expressed such thoughts during the presentation of an informational message to the UN Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination regarding discrimination against the Roma women in Ukraine.

As noted by representative of the International Charitable Organization “Roma Women Fund “Chirikli” Zemfira Kondur, the main problem of the Roma population is the lack of documents of civil registration. The absence of these documents prevents them from enforcing their social and economic rights to employment, education, health care, social assistance and pensions.

Mrs. Kondur stressed that “Roma women also face such obstacles as a lack of identity certificates, which, in turn, is reasoned by lengthy and complicated administrative procedure for obtaining these documents.” The experts suggested including in the report a proposal to simplify the procedure for obtaining identity certificates for members of the Roma community.

While discussing the issue of access to education, the experts pointed to the fact that young Roma women are in much worse situation than other women, due to such factors as age, low level of education, institutional discrimination and the lack of guarantees for the protection of their rights by the state.

As noted by Tamara Martsenyuk, the associate professor at the Sociology Department of the National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, a global problem that must be fought is early and forced marriages of Roma women. She highlighted two main factors of early marriage for Roma women: cultural and economic ones.

Martsenyuk said that xenophobic or intolerant attitudes occurred in Ukraine most often specifically towards Roma people, according to sociological studies. The situation does not improve, it is only getting worse.

Martsenyuk stressed that common ethnic discrimination was still overlapped by gender discrimination in the lives of Roma women. She referred to the words of an activist of an international NGO:

I have never heard any complaints from a Roma woman or girl about violence towards her… I have a feeling that it’s taken, unfortunately, for granted. The leaders often say it is their tradition. Then I have one question – could violence against women be considered a tradition or cultural achievement? It is not an argument for me. In my opinion, it is a flagrant violation of women’s rights.”

During the event, the experts also discussed such problems of the Roma people as the lack of proper access to social and health services, a significant limitation of access to jobs, and stigmatization of internally displaced Roma.

One of the priority recommendations of the UN Committee is the implementation of an accessible mechanism for reporting on the incidents of discrimination based on ethnic and gender discrimination of Roma women, including on the part of state bodies.

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