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Virginity, Early Marriage and Well-Being of Roma girls The Children’s Rights Perspective Brana Bosnjak Ljiljana Sinickovic.

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Presentation on theme: "Virginity, Early Marriage and Well-Being of Roma girls The Children’s Rights Perspective Brana Bosnjak Ljiljana Sinickovic."— Presentation transcript:

1 Virginity, Early Marriage and Well-Being of Roma girls The Children’s Rights Perspective Brana Bosnjak Ljiljana Sinickovic

2 Outline Roma in Europe The Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) Research questions and methodology Result analysis Readiness for marriage Qualities of the bride Virginity Discussion Best Interests of the Child Final comment 2

3 3

4 -Low socio-economic conditions -Low education, high dropout rates, special schools -Unemployment -Negative stereotyping -Collectivist culture: Family, solidarity, community - „Honor“ - social pressure 4

5 “My grandfather used to say – I will watch over a hundred sheep, but I can’t watch over one daughter.” (F, 43, Germany) 5

6 The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child 20 th November 1989 Not only the economical factors, but also the culture and the social structure of the family contribute to the violation of some children’s rights: The needs and problems of children are subject to the interpretation by adults… (Vuckovic –Sahovic, 2000) Three key concerns 1. denial of childhood and adolescence 2. curtailment of personal freedom 3. denial of psychosocial and emotional well-being (UNICEF, 2001) 6

7 The Study Field work Winter 2009/2010 Semi-structural interviews (N=35) 7 TitleCountry, YearNAuthors Virginity (does) not define the value of a Roma girl Montenegro, Center for Roma Initiatives The position and problems of Young Roma Bosnia, Dušanić & Trninić Virgin yes, or no? Serbia, Mitro, et al. Document Analysis

8 Sample COUNTRY OF RESIDENCE MOTHERSGIRLSBOYS GERMANY657 BOSNIA & HERZEGOVINA 323 SERBIA522 Total14912 Average age

9 What is usually said in your family? What is your personal opinion? 9 Guideline Questions What is the appropriate age for a girl to get married? (Readiness for marriage) What kind of qualities should a bride possess? ( Qualities of the bride) Does a bride (groom) have to be a virgin? ( Virginity )

10 Readiness for marriage “Birth, marriage and death are the standard trio of key events in most people’s lives. But only one - marriage - is a matter of choice” (Unicef, 2001:2) “They came to propose, and my ex father-in- law together with my father and brother agreed about my marriage. I didn’t want to, I was only 13 (…) As the parents say – that’s the way it must be. ” (M, 35, Germany) 10 14% of Roma girls get married under the age of 15, every third has her first child before she reaches majority (MIC Survey, Serbia, 2010) USA 4%; Germany 1% women marry before age 18. (Unicef, 2001)

11 Qualities of the bride MOTHERS “She should be a virgin”, “smart and polite”, “hardworking” BOYS “She should be a virgin, she shouldn’t be empty- headed and she shouldn’t go out everyday” GIRLS “To be able to do all the house chores”, “to take care of children” and “to be good to her husband” Virgin Hardworking and obedient Smart and polite 11

12 Virginity of the bride “I find it better for my family if she is still a virgin, because of the honor. By that man shows that he chose a smart and a good girl...” (K, 17, Germany) “If she is wandering around, you can’t say if she is a virgin or not. And when the time comes for her to marry, she comes all “torn up”. Many Gypsies worry about that.” (H, 34, Bosnia) ”...when people hear you’re not...everyone will think you’re a whore” (J, 16, Germany) YES 11 (12) BOYS YES 8 (9) GIRLS YES 11 (14) MOTHERS 12

13 Virginity of the groom 13 NO 10 (12) BOYS NO 8 (9) GIRLS NO 11 (14) MOTHERS “ They are simply freed from that guilt. It cannot be seen on them and it can be seen on us.” (I, 27, Serbia)

14 Discussion 14 discrimination best interests life, survival and development free time and recreation health information education participation all forms of physical or mental violence EARLY MARRIAGE AND VIRGINITY

15 The best interests of the child Article 3 In all actions concerning children, the best interests of the child shall be the primary consideration…. States Parties undertake to ensure the child such protection and care as is necessary for his or her well-being… What is best interest? 15

16 The concept of childhood “I got married when I was 18. There was a time when I was a child, a young woman, a woman and a mother, which is not the case with most of my female friends. They changed straight from the role of a little girl, years old, to a woman and then soon to a mother. So the time when they were young girls – did not exist.” (I, 27, Serbia) 16

17 Final comment 17 No matter which country of residence - the attitudes of our participants remain similar Women in education… Bridginig the gap between tradition and education

18 Thank you for your attention! 18 Ljiljana Sinickovic Brana Bosnjak


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