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Identifying and Reducing Prejudices as a Source of Conflict between Roma and Non-Roma Population ROMA IN BULGARIA Ilona Tomova.

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Presentation on theme: "Identifying and Reducing Prejudices as a Source of Conflict between Roma and Non-Roma Population ROMA IN BULGARIA Ilona Tomova."— Presentation transcript:

1 Identifying and Reducing Prejudices as a Source of Conflict between Roma and Non-Roma Population ROMA IN BULGARIA Ilona Tomova

2 The Post-communist situation For two decades, the legislation and social policy changes were directed to a higher extent towards promotion of the accumulation of wealth by the economic and political elite, rather than building up a democratic society, or towards transparent privatisation of the accumulated material assets, or towards a considered restructuring of the economy. As a result: Bulgaria lost its decent place in the global division of labour and wealth; Nearly ¾ of the Bulgarian population continues to live with the sense of poverty and social insecurity; The social inequalities in the country became rather big; The sense of solidarity among the different social groups de facto does not exist and this is an obstacle for the implementation of reforms which depend on the solidarity of the citizens; The civil society is weak. The media serve the interest of the “new elites” to a high extent and contribute to the stigmatisation and social exclusion of the different, especially the ethnic and religious minorities. 2

3 On terms Room: Social exclusion can be referred to as a multidimensional unfavourable situation which lasts for long and includes dropping out of the main social spheres and labour market. Social exclusion means the lack of opportunity for participation in the social structures and institutions; a failure (on individual, group or communal level) in one or more of the following four systems: the democratic and legal system which promote and sustain the civil integration; the labour market which creates the conditions for economic integration; the state system for social assistance which is directed towards the societal integration; the communal system which contributes to interpersonal integration. 3

4 Civil and political inclusion Roma are badly represented in Bulgarian Parliament and in the local structures of power. After 2013 Parliament election they will not have even one MP. The ideology of anti-Gypsyism was incorporated into the official election rhetoric of the largest Bulgarian far-right political parties: ATAKA, VMRO-BND and NFSB. Nationalistic openly anti-Roma political parties receive strong support. Hate speech is not punished and exists as an essential part of the political discourse, and a significant part of the media appearances and programmes. The Bulgaria’s political “elite” is clear about the social hostility against the rights of the minorities and often demonstrates lack of political will for implementation of the programmes for integration of the Roma. Bulgaria has certain commitments for integration of the Roma, which are being under observation by the European Union. This leads to dual behaviour of the Bulgarian government: a series of legal documents are being developed in which willingness for counteraction of discrimination and descriptions of policies for integration of the Roma are formally declared. In reality, many programmes are enervated from unclear or incomplete formulations of the tasksfrom foreseen inadequate measures, insufficient funding, simulating concern or lack of control. 4

5 Civil and political inclusion In , the Bulgarian government worked on a series of strategies, projects and programmes directed towards reduction of Roma social exclusion. Although the task was ‘accomplishment of a synergy effect’, local authorities and Roma communities were insufficiently involved in preparing these documents and policies. The amount of the state budget funds for implementation of the policies for Roma integration is insufficient. The Bulgarian government continues to count on mainly on external funds which are not supported enough with budget money. The inclusion of the Roma in the implementation of the projects and programmes for social inclusion on all stages of the realisation remains only a recommendation. The involvement of particular Roma non-government organisations at given stages of the projects often leads only to their disowning as representatives of the local Roma community. The statute of the Roma deputy mayors and of the minority integration experts on regional and municipal levels is unclear and limited. 5

6 6 Labour Force Participation, Employment and Unemployment by Ethnicity Ethnic group (age 15 – 59) Employed Unemployed Non active Ethnic Bulgarians Turks Roma Source: NSI, 1992, 2001 and 2011 census

7 7 Education by ethnicity (persons age 20+) Level of EducationBulgariansTurksRoma University and college Secondary (12-13 years) Basic (8 years) Elementary (4 years) Illiterate Source: NSI, census 2001, 2011

8 8 Problems of Roma education The Roma level of education is the lowest in Bulgaria. Between an increase in the educational levels In the three largest ethnic groups is observed, but the change is the slightest in the Roma community. The education of Roma women is much lower than that of the men. This negatively affects children motivation to study and the possibilities of the family to assist and help the child in his/her studies. Roma children enrollment in pre-school education is much less than the average of the country (in 2007, 54.3% of Roma children were enrolled in kindergartens, in comparison with 78.5% of ethnic Bulgarians’ children). Although after 2003 there is a possibility to prepare children for school in 1 year (and since years) free of charge preschool education, it is still not enough to compensate the difficulties stemming from the fact that for the vast majority of Roma Bulgarian is not their mother tongue. High drop-out rates and absenteeism continue to pose serious problems. Levels of enrolment among Romani children are much lower for basic, secondary and college levels of education. The majority of the Roma children studies in rural or in segregated ghetto schools with bad infrastructure, lack of teaching materials and extremely low quality of education. Bulgarian teachers demonstrate strong prejudices against Roma children and have low expectations for their school success. Multiculturalism and civic education are not enough developed. Despite of some improvements in teaching materials, stereotyped and prejudiced descriptions of Roma still exist in history and literature textbooks for different grades.

9 9 Spatial segregation and living conditions Roma’s spatial segregation increased significantly after 1990 – around 78% of Roma live now in segregated neibourhoods. Many Roma neighbourhoods degraded to ghettoes. Over- populated Roma neighbourhoods became a norm. At least one quarter of the Roma (23.5%) have living spaces of under 5 sq. m. per person. The overpopulation raises the risk of spreading of diseases. It also is a cause for everyday distress – a preliminary condition for high morbidity. According to the NSI, 37.1% of Roma lack drinking water supply in their homes. The majority of Roma neighbourhoods are without sewerage. All these factors increase the risk of hepatitis and stomach and enteric diseases. Spatial segregation has an adverse effect on Roma’s ability to find jobs and on young people’s socialization.

10 10 Roma health status Morbidity in the Roma community is very high. Infectious diseases cause extremely serious problems in Roma neighbourhoods. The majority of Roma aged 10 – 44 assess their health positively. The collapse occurs immediately after 45. Only 23% of Roma above that age assess their health positively. 12% of the entire Roma population (including children) suffers some type of disability or a heavy chronic disease. One peculiarity of the group is the early invalidization and the mass chronification of the maladies already in the middle age. In December 2008, 26% of the adult Bulgarian Roma population had no health insurance. Since 2009, due to the higher level of drop-outs from the labour market this share has rose. The restrictions in the access to emergency room services introduced in 2010 could result in higher rates of premature deaths among the poorest.

11 11 Conclusion  Ethnic mobilization of minority groups after 1989 became a political means to redistribute power and to actively participate in the political changes of Bulgarian society.  After the Parliament elections in 2013 there are no Roma in the Parliament. The influence of the Anti-Roma nationalistic parties increased. Roma social inclusion is jeopardised.  Long-term unemployment and impoverishment led to the revival of traditional economic strategies – mass emigration, decrease in consumption, high school drop-outs, petty crimes and an increase in patriarchal practices.  Social distances between Roma and non-Roma increased. Negative stereotyping and proclivity towards discrimination against Roma augmonted.


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