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Roma of the Czech Republic the struggle for equality by: Christy Schoenborn Geography 308 (Russia and Eastern Europe) Professor Zoltan.

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Presentation on theme: "Roma of the Czech Republic the struggle for equality by: Christy Schoenborn Geography 308 (Russia and Eastern Europe) Professor Zoltan."— Presentation transcript:

1 Roma of the Czech Republic the struggle for equality by: Christy Schoenborn Geography 308 (Russia and Eastern Europe) Professor Zoltan Grossman University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Spring 2005

2 Introduction Roma (Gypsies) have been drastically oppressed for centuries Will talk about  History  Present Issues  Possible Solutions

3 History - Distant Roma came from India in 1300’s Middle Ages – Rumor woman had relations with Satan  All Roma (like Jews) thought to be evil  Not Christian when they arrived Estimated that half of all Roma were slaves in 1400’s-1800’s in Europe

4 History – Past (cont.) Culture without a homeland (like Jews)  Traveling bands  Nomads

5 History - WWII Genocide of Roma by Nazis Nazi experiments in alleged Roma “fertility” and twins

6 History – Communist Era Also sterilized Roma women Forced Roma to settle; gave new homes Changed language and even their names Started many of the problems the Roma of the Czech face today! (housing, schooling, etc.)

7 History – Communist Era Took away ethnic identity  Outlawed language  Closed newspapers and clubs Yet economic improvement  Made to work in factories  Paid wages; reduced poverty

8 Roma Stereotypes Liars, cheats, thieves High birthrate Musical Hemingway writes, “The gypsy…is truly worthless. He has no political development, nor any discipline, and you could not rely on him for anything.”

9 Roma Issues Today Schooling barriers Unemployment Housing shortages Lack of Healthcare Racism

10 Where Roma Live Generally where population is dense

11 Racism Today When polled, 36% of Czechs said they did not care about racism  6% actively opposed  6% actively supported Can legally be barred from public places (signs posted)

12 Schooling 75% of Roma children are in special education classes Roma are only group of children to get psychological exam before admitted to schooling Fear of violence and cost of supplies deter families from educating children

13 Unemployment Roma unemployment rate is 70% (other Czechs—3%) Usually don’t work service jobs  Do “grunt” jobs Roma activists have wired themselves when going in to inquire about jobs  When denied that positions were available when they actually were, collect monetary compensation

14 Housing Many Roma live in public housing (due to bad schooling and high unemployment) Proposals to build wall around Roma section of town in Usti There are self-governed “Roma” sections of town

15 Health care More Roma need state health care due to low employment Doctors have turned away Roma emergency when busy Some Roma parents are cautious about government-mandated vaccinations for their children

16 Shocking Misc. Facts ¾ Gypsies in Central and Eastern Europe are illiterate Average Roma life is 1/3 shorter than non-Roma Roma are only ethnic group scanned mandatory before allowed on airplanes at British airport in Prague 150,000-175,000 (.3%) Czechs are Roma, but only 11,000 actually claim to be

17 Shocking Misc. Facts (cont.) Roma women in Czech Republic are pressured to be sterilized to stop “unhealthy birthrates”  Cases in ’90s where women did not give consent and it was done anyway  Cases where women were asked if they wanted to be sterilized while giving birth  Cases where women were bribed or blackmailed into getting it done  Economic and cultural reasons for large Roma families

18 Racist Skinheads 5,000 active Czech skinheads in the country Perform acts of violence on Gypsies to get their point across  Stabbings  Random attacks 452 racial crimes in 2004

19 Possible Solutions European Union admission – need to guarantee minority groups Activist groups Education Government/Law Police Roma political parties

20 Solution - Activism Activist Groups  Websites like Bury Me Standing by Isabel Fonseca  Presents Gypsies’ stories of hardships Difficult for Roma in different countries to unite as one force Also difficult to unite within the country due to differences among Roma

21 Solution - Education Do have a long-term plan to integrate Have head-start like programs to get Roma children admitted to regular schools when they are 5 Getting more Roma teachers assistants More scholarships for higher education

22 Solution - Government Integrated housing project starting in Ostrava Have cases pending on racial discrimination in bars 12 suits filed on school system discrimination  11 turned down, but have 1 suit pending

23 Solution - Police More racial crimes are being reported each year  Sign that the police are noticing there is a problem and reporting it correctly instead of ignoring it Trainees being trained on Roma language and culture

24 European Union Roma can take human rights cases to European Court of Human Rights EU disapproves of Czech treatment of Roma  Said no to the wall-building expedition Hard to say what changes will occur, as the Czech Rep. was just admitted in 2004

25 European Union Put out report for Czech authorities stating: “As regards the overall situation of the Roma in the Czech Republic, further efforts are needed, in particular to combat anti-Roma prejudice and to strengthen the protection provided by the police and the courts. Estimated Roma unemployment remains very high at 70-90 %. Health and housing conditions are still much worse in the Roma communities than amongst the general population. Attitudes at local level are largely unaltered, as illustrated by some recent district court judgments.”

26 Solution – Political Parties Many Roma political parties popping up  Romani Civic Initiative  Democratic Alliance of Roma in the Czech Republic Most parties started around 1998 Some members already represented in Parliment

27 Emigration Most of these “solutions” are not working yet Roma are leaving in mass numbers for Canada and the UK, filing for refugee status

28 Sources Breathe. Prod. Elizabeth Thompson with Independent Television Services and Thompson Productions. 2000. “Challenging Coercive Sterilizations of Romani Women in the Czech Republic.” European Roma Rights Center. 20 April 2005.. “Communism.” 17 April 2005.. “European Union.” 17 April 2005.. Fonseca, Isabel. Bury Me Standing. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1995. Kenety, Brian. “ ‘Wired’ Czech Romani women win racial discrimination case.” 23 March 2005.. “Multi-ethnic States and the Protection of Minority Rights.” World Conference Against Racism. 17 April 2005..

29 Sources (cont.) Ridgeway, James. Blood in the Face: The Ku Klux Klan, Aryan Nations, Nazi Skinheads, and the Rise of a New White Culture. New York: Thunder’s Mouth Press, 1991. Robinson, B. A. “The Religion and the Culture of the Roma.” 3 November 2004. Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance. 21 April 2005.. “Roma.” 17 April 2005.. “Roma & Sinti (Gypsies).” Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies. 17 April 2005.. Sever, Ivan. “The Czech Gypsies.” February 1999. The Never-Ending Roma Question. 17 April 2005. Skinheadz. 20 April 2005..

30 Sources (cont.) United Kingdom Country Information and Policy Unit. Czech Country Country Assessment. April 2001. United States Department of State. Czech Republic. March 31, 2003.

31 Any Questions?

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