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Position of Roma Women in the Czech Republic – Research Results

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This is a partial translation of the research results from questionnaire and focus group interviews that have been published in full in Czech. This translation into English was carried out by František Valeš and edited by Gwendolyn Albert. Selma Muhič Dizdarevič Ph.D. of Charles University’s Faculty of Humanities (selma.muhic@fhs.cuni.cz) was the Research Supervisor and author of this report. This research is specific in that it actively involved Romani women, from the development of the basic idea of the need to collect relevant data and determining the main topics for investigation that would best reveal the actual position of Romani women, to the implementation of the survey itself. The findings of this exclusive research can serve as a relevant source of information, for example, when designing Romani integration strategy or programs intended to respond to the actual needs of Romani women in the Czech Republic.
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Position of Roma Women
in the Czech Republic – Research Results
Slovo 21, z.s.
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This is a partial translation of the research results from questionnaire and focus group interviews
that have been published in full in Czech. This translation into English was carried out by František
Valeš and edited by Gwendolyn Albert.
Selma Muhič Dizdarevič Ph.D. of Charles University’s Faculty of Humanities (selma.muhic@fhs.cuni.cz)
was the Research Supervisor and author of this report.
This research is specific in that it actively involved Romani women, from the development of the
basic idea of the need to collect relevant data and determining the main topics for investigation that
would best reveal the actual position of Romani women, to the implementation of the survey itself.
The findings of this exclusive research can serve as a relevant source of information, for example,
when designing Romani integration strategy or programs intended to respond to the actual needs
of Romani women in the Czech Republic.
POSITION OF ROMA WOMEN IN THE CZECH REPUBLIC – RESEARCH RESULTS
Supported by the Open Society Foundations - Roma Initiatives Office
Prague, 2014
Published by: Slovo 21, z.s.
ISBN 978 - 80 - 905715 - 0 - 1
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INTRODUCTION – QUESTIONNAIRES
The 600 respondents were interviewed via structured interviews. Of 600 Roma women interviewed,
100 % filled out the questionnaire. One of the reasons for such a high success rate is no doubt
because the interviewers were also from the Roma community. They knew the community and
how to reach out to its members very well. Another reason is that the interviewers conducted the
interviews mostly in the homes of the respondents, so it was not necessary to organize and invite
the respondents to a specific place; the interviews were carried out in their regular environments.
Twenty Roma women interviewers were trained by experts from the Academy of J.A. Komenský in
using the questionnaire. Training for the focus group interviews was carried out by the Research
Supervisor; the interviewers were again from the Roma community. At each focus group interview
a representative from the NGO Slovo 21 was also present. The focus group interviews were
audio-recorded and the research team also summarized the interviews and presented them in
written form. Documentation of the research (the questionnaire and audio recordings) is stored on
the Slovo 21 premises.
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QUESTIONNAIRES – SUMMARY,
FOCUS GROUPS
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The questionnaire part of the research focused on finding out Roma women’s attitudes toward
selected issues. The research took place in various parts of the Czech Republic and included
women of all ages. Our goal was not to establish regional or intergenerational differences, but to
include a diverse sample of Roma women. Therefore, women from age 17-77 participated in our
research, which included women from a variety of locations in the Czech Republic.
The most important findings of the questionnaire part of the research are:
• Roma women have mostly primary or secondary school education (without passing a graduation
examination). We found, however, that the frequencies of women with no education and of those
with university education are similar in our sample.
• Their personal income was most often between 5 000 CZK and 10 000 CZK per month, while their
family income was most often up to 20 000 CZK per month.
Roma women feel neither particular satisfaction nor dissatisfaction with their lives. Their life
satisfaction is mostly influenced by their families and by material wealth. It is less influenced by
career achievements.
• Family decisions are made mostly by Roma women together with their partners. However, only
women provide childcare including for their children’s education. It is therefore particularly important
to pay attention to the position of Roma women, since they seem to be the ones bringing up future
generations. Domestic work is done by Roma women in Roma families.
• The women in our research sample were mostly legally married; fewer were either single or in an
undocumented partnership. They don´t often see themselves as single mothers, but when they do,
they claim they have support from no one.
• In the Roma women’s community there are slightly more women who prefer marriage to informal
cohabitation. It seems that the formal status of the relationship is not of crucial importance to our
respondents.
• Our research showed that women mostly know which rights and obligations are tied to marriage.
This, however, is not the case when it comes to informal cohabitation, since one-third of our
respondents did not know that children born out of wedlock and children born in marriage have the
same legal rights. Almost two-thirds of them did not know that spouses have a mutual obligation
to provide for each other.
The married women usually concluded a marriage when they were 18-19 years old. However,
most respondents think the ideal marriage age is 25. Roma women married most often for love,
with the second most frequent reason being because they got pregnant. The basis for a successful
marriage, in their view, is related to love, trust and tolerance.
• Roma women most often have two children, with the second most frequent family size as three
children and the third most frequent, one child. The frequently repeated claim that Roma women
tend to have a high number of children has not been confirmed by our research. Our respondents
said the most optimal number of children is two, then three, and then one, corresponding to number
of children they most often claimed to have.
• The Roma women most often reported delivering their rst child at the ages of 19, followed by 18,
followed by 20. However some women had their first child when they were 17 and 16. Considering
the wide age range in our sample, it is possible that those were women from the older generation.
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• In Roma families it is almost always the woman who decides on the use of contraception and the
conceiving or continuing of pregnancy.
• Although the roles given to sons and daughters in Roma families are most frequently very similar,
they tend to differ in stressing that daughters take care of the household while sons succeed at
school. We may conclude from this that Roma girls should receive more support in their educations
to compensate for a possible lack of time given them for school arising from expecting them to
take care of the household.
• In the interviewed families the man is most often the provider, closely followed by cases where
the woman is the main provider and where both provide equally.
• We consider it positive that most women share the feeling of belonging both to their local (non-
Roma) community and their Roma community. However, a higher percentage said they “somewhat”
or “completely” do not feel that they belong to the local (i.e., the non-Roma) community. We find it
interesting that Roma women responded that they felt there was solidarity among Roma women,
but when asked if they would trust their neighbor with watching over their child, almost half of them
responded negatively.
A clear majority of Roma women considers the education of their children either important or
very important. Most of our respondents would want their children to attend secondary school,
both with and without taking a graduation examination. It is worth noticing that almost every sixth
respondent would prefer their children to have a university education. Only 1 % would want them
to end up in “practical” schools.
• Roma mothers are very willing to support their children´s education regardless of whether they
have sons or daughters. If they had to choose between supporting a son or daughter, they said they
would support the more talented or more successful child. The willingness to support children´s
education declared by a clear majority of our respondents seem to contradict the widespread
thinking that Roma do not support their children’s education and take no interest in it. On the
contrary, the willingness revealed by this research could serve as a good basis for improving
cooperation with Roma parents.
• Although the majority of our respondents were unemployed, the second most numerous category
was of those who are employed and those on parental leave. Most Roma women blamed a lack
of job opportunities for their unemployment; discrimination or lack of education did not gure as
important in their responses. We find it positive that the unemployment situation was perceived
as a consequence of the job market situation rather than of inequality. However, the focus group
findings pointed clearly to discrimination as the main reason for Roma unemployment.
• The number of Roma women who would be willing to move for a job opportunity is the same as
those who would not, but one-fifth said they didn’t know. Entrepreneurship was not very popular
among our respondents.
• The employed Roma women most often cited the following professions: cleaner, shop assistant,
worker and cook. A small but significant number of them worked in positions they had no formal
qualifications for, with almost one-fifth occupying such posts repeatedly. It is positive that the
Roma women reported no significant experience with being fired during the test period.
Roma women mostly have positive views of the availability of health care. The vast majority
of them have registered their children with pediatricians and regularly take them to preventive
appointments. Most of our respondents also go regularly to preventive gynecological appointments,
but only a minority does the same in the case of mammographic examinations.
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The vast majority of Roma women use contraception, most often the hormonal type. Despite
this, most claimed to not plan when to become pregnant and 40 % said they had gotten pregnant
unexpectedly. This might mean they do not use contraception regularly.
• In Roma families approximately half of the respondents talk about sex with their children, with half
never doing so. When they do, the information is provided almost always by the mothers, which is
an additional reason to devote more attention to education of Roma mothers in this area.
• The Roma women were well-informed about patients´ rights; most of them saw their own health
condition as good.
• Roma women often live in municipally-owned or private rental accommodation; one bedroom is
usually occupied by two to three persons. Most of the accommodation facilities they occupy have
electricity, a kitchen and sanitary facilities. It is, however, important to stress that almost one-tenth
claimed they had no access to their own toilet/bathroom or kitchen (i.e., they share such facilities
in communal arrangements).
• Civic activities are not prominent among the interviewed Roma women. Almost half of them participate
in elections regularly and one-third irregularly. A relatively low number of them attend parent-teacher
meetings, with one-third never attending them. They engage very rarely in local political life (i.e., by signing
petitions, attending municipal meetings, demonstrations, public debates, etc.) and almost none of them
are a political party or NGO member. It is, however, noteworthy that Roma women are more often NGO
clients, and therefore we would recommend civil society to engage them more not only as clients, but also
as NGO members.
• The main priorities of Roma women are their children, health, accommodation and nances. Education
and security are less important, while career, religion and neighborhood relations play almost no role.
When asked about their role models, the respondents quoted mostly family members. Most Roma women
are proud to be Roma, although one-fifth responded that they don´t know whether they are proud or not.
• The vast majority of respondents uses IT, mostly from home, and is active on social networks which they
use as sources of information, for communication, to look for jobs, for fun, and to meet people. This fact
means there is great potential for female Roma to find work and receive information online.
The questionnaire part of our research focused on necessarily limited questions while the focus group
interviews allowed us to expand on the questions, discussing the concepts used in the quantitative research
and enabling the respondents to talk about these problems from their own individual perspectives.
Ten focus groups interviews were carried out at the following locations: Bruntál, Chomutov, Krupka, Mimoň,
Mladá Boleslav, Náchod, Ostrava, Praha, Trmice and Turnov. Six women participated in each interview.
The interviews were conducted by Roma interviewers, who were specially trained by the Research
Supervisor. The interviews lasted two to four hours, including the respondents´ informed consent to be
audio-recorded. A representative from Slovo 21 was present at each interview. As already mentioned, the
research team kept written records of the interviews and the Research Supervisor analyzed them.
Not all of the interviewed women responded to all of the questions, and sometimes they responded with “I
don´t know”; therefore, in some cases the result does not equal 600/100 %. The approximation of results
in percentages may lead to sums slightly greater than 100 %.
We will start with presenting the demographic parameters of the women from the Roma community who
participated in our questionnaire.
Quotations from the focus groups are presented here without grammatical or other interventions, the way they were spoken by the respondents.
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The average age of the respondents was 38, but the survey included women from age 17 to 77.
The following graph shows the size of the places where our respondents live.
Graph 1. Size of the place of living.
Source: Research.
Our respondents lived predominantly in cities (54 %), big cities (22 %), towns (17 %) and villages (7 %).
In the case of education, most respondents in our sample had a primary (elementary) education.
Graph 2. Education.
Source: Research.
In percentages, the sample included: 3 % no education, 13 % practical/special schools, 46 % elementary
school, 24 % secondary without graduation , 11 % secondary with graduation and 3 % university
education.
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The average monthly income of the respondents included in the sample was most often “up to 10 000
CZK”, followed by “up to 5 000 CZK”.
Graph 3. Average monthly personal income.
Source: Research.
Household income most often reached 20 000 CZK, followed by 15 000 CZK.
Graph 4. Monthly household income.
Source: Research.
In percentages: up to 5 000 CZK: 189 (32.64 %), up to 10 000 CZK: 217 (37.48 %), up to 15 000 CZK: 125 (21.59 %), up to 20 000 CZK:
41 (7.08 %), more than 30 000 CZK: 6 (1.04 %).
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In %: up to 5 000: 47 (8.23 %), up to 10 000: 106 (18.56 %), up to 15 000: 125 (21.89 %), up to 20 000: 161 (28.20 %), up to 30 000: 98
(17.16 %), up to 40 000: 18 (3.15 %), up to 50 000: 14 (2.45 %), up to 60 000: 1 (0.18 %), up to 70 000: 1 (0.18 %).
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GENERAL LIFE SATISFACTION
The next batch of questions probed life satisfaction. Most respondents feel neither satisfaction nor
dissatisfaction with life (32 %), followed by “rather satisfied” (25 %) and “rather unsatisfied” (23%).
“Definitely satisfied” were 11 % and “definitely unsatisfied” were 10 %. When asked to be more precise,
Roma women chose as important for life satisfaction the following: 52 % said material wealth “somewhat”
or “definitely” influences life satisfaction, and the same was true for family (75 % said it “somewhat” or
“definitely” influences life satisfaction). Career is seen as having an influence by 48 % of the respondents,
20 % couldn´t tell and the rest thought it has no influence.
The focus group interviews mostly confirmed that the most important factors for satisfaction are family,
health and financial security. In this section of the focus groups we asked if the respondents ever felt
discriminated against and how they felt during the demonstrations by the ultra-right (we supposed this
also has an influence on their life satisfaction).
Not all of our respondents have experienced discrimination. Some thought cases of discrimination were
an individual matter and depended on what kind of person one was. The other tendency we noticed was
an ability to self-reflect and to be aware of their own Roma community. Roma women told us relatively
frequently how sometimes the Roma themselves reinforce negative stereotypes through inadequate
behavior. However, a majority of Roma women have experienced discrimination. Most often they were
bothered because they felt they had never been given a chance to demonstrate their abilities, and that
at every interaction with the majority society they are “put in the same box”. It is important to stress the
repeatedly-expressed conviction of Roma women that it is necessary to fight discrimination, and that the
best way to do that is when a Roma woman has self-confidence, does not allow discriminatory behavior,
and is aware of her rights.
The feeling of discrimination was aroused mainly in the following situations:
While shopping there is an automatic assumption that a Roma woman will steal.
“I feel discriminated against lately in the shops. When I enter a shop, whatever shop, security keeps following
me around and that makes me nervous.”
During job interviews and while looking for a job in general, Romani women candidates are rejected not
because of a lack of qualifications, but because of their ethnic Roma origin or skin color. It is interesting
to note that “white” Roma women experienced discrimination less often, and they even experienced
discrimination only after someone informed the schools or an employer that the woman is Roma. Further
expressions of discrimination on the job market (see more in the employment section) are paying Roma
less for the same work done by non-Roma or refusal by non-Roma employees to work with Roma.
“May I add something? I watch Slovak TV stations. What the Gypsies in the East do is a disgrace to us all.
Why can´t they integrate? This is also about the selection of Gypsies, the real black ones, they broadcast
them all over, then the gadjo fixes everything, and it´s fine. I condemn them, but I wish they would get
involved. Why do they show only the worst among us? Why don´t they ever show normal [Roma] people,
those who work, who care for their children? I think everyone can get integrated. Whoever wants to work,
s/he works. Whoever wants to work will always find a job.”
The section on employment also conrms that the vast majority of the respondents expresses a desire
to work and struggles to do so. They are, however, limited by the discriminatory behavior of employers.
“I felt (discriminated) many times. I felt bad because when a black person provokes some trouble, all black people are regarded as troublemakers,
so the others get no chance when someone provokes trouble.”
Gadjo is a Romani name for a non-Roma person.
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“It happened to me, I called on the phone for work, they told me, sure, please come, we are hiring, no
problem – but when I got there to talk to them personally and they saw I was Roma, they started hesitating,
making things up, claiming that just a few moments ago they hired someone, some lady came, we hired her.
I tell them, all right, but give me a chance, try me, but they say, no, sorry. I ask them why? Do I not meet your
requirements? I have a business license, I have a driver´s license, I’m not stupid, I know how to work, and I
have the same attitude toward work as that white woman or man. I ask them: Why do you put us all in the
same box? Why are you making differences based on if someone is white, black, or I don´t know – purple?”
Even when a Roma person gets a job, s/he encounters further problems because of their co-workers´
behavior.
“It happened to me. My husband came home from a job where he has been working for more than five
years and he was very angry and nervous. I asked him ‘What happened, did something go wrong at work?’
He says, ‘Not to me, but you know, a young Roma man came to work today, very skillful, good-looking, very
dark, and imagine, every hour they sent him to a different department. They finally brought him to me and
said, take him, we want nothing to do with a black man.’ My husband went to his business partner and said,
‘This is terrible what’s happening, does it mean we are not entitled to work at all, because he’s black?’ He
also said ‘My wife will write about it in the newspaper,’ and so I did, I wrote an article, We Want No Blacks,
and I described what happened at my husband´s work. Of course later at work when my husband´s co-
workers read it they said, ‘Your wife is exaggerating, if she writes something similar again, it won´t be good
for you’, but my husband wasn´t afraid and said, ‘She will write at any cost, you can´t stop her.’”
In some cases, Roma women claimed they received less financial remuneration for the same work or
that they were forced to do more work than others for the same pay.
“I went to many companies, they always looked at me with suspicion. I suffered also financially, I had to work
more for less money. At my last job, I worked there for 10 years, then I was hit by a car, and after two months
of sick leave, I was fired. Then I realized it was about racism. My surname is Olahová, and when I didn´t
mention it, everything was fine, but as soon as they saw me in person, the job was occupied, but I knew it
wasn´t. Ten years ago I knew the employer, he knew me well, but unfortunately he died.”
Another area where respondents said discrimination was happening (in relation to general life satisfaction)
was the situation of Roma children at schools. It is often at school that Roma children learn about the
disadvantages of their Roma identity, sometimes because of their teachers.
“My grandson was excluded from kindergarten because he was Gypsy. He attended kindergarten for a
month, and once the children started fighting, like in every kindergarten. My grandson was the only Gypsy
there, he beat up a Vietnamese boy, and the teacher told me to pick him up and never bring him again.
She also said, ‘It´s normal for you people, you solve everything with fighting’ - but children fight everywhere.
My Filip was three years old and of all the kids who were there, none of them knew who was Czech, or
Vietnamese, or Gypsy - but the teacher knew, and she said to Filip, when they went for their afternoon nap
and she was reading a fairy tale to them, she didn´t even use his name, she said to him, ’You, black boy, turn
your head away and look at the window’.”
It often happens that the respondents are forced to ght against prejudices if they want their children
to be included into classroom life. We quote here an example of a respondent overcoming a negative
situation.
“When I applied for a place in the kindergarten for my son, the teacher told me they wanted no children from
socially disadvantaged backgrounds. I told her she was wasting my time since I had to go to work, and
then she said, ‘Oh you work, you should´ve said that immediately.’ I told her to call the headmistress and the
problem was solved.”
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What sometimes happens in the later stages is that classmates learn the “lesson” and participate in the
exclusion of Roma children in the class.
“For example at school, at elementary school, there were 30 white kids at school and one Gypsy and he
didn´t have the same opportunities like the white kids, right? Because the kids didn´t even talk to him. Also
during Christmas – they gave each other presents but the Gypsy got nothing. That happened to my sister.
She came home and cried, she felt bad. Everyone got something and she got nothing, just because no one
accepted her at school because she was Gypsy.”
Again, we found out from the interviews that skin color adds to discrimination; one of our respondents
was asked to prove she was mother to her son because she was too “white”.
“They attack children, mostly children. Already when my son started going to school, he was little, they
cursed him in the kindergarten that he is black and his mom is black. At vocational school, since my son is
dark and I am fair, the teacher wanted me to show my ID to prove I´m really his mother.”
What influence do the public demonstrations by the ultra-right have on the Roma women in our research?
The answers differed, from those who had only heard of the demonstrations to those who hid from them
with their children out of fear. Generally we recorded feelings of fear, horror, insecurity, limitation of
freedom of movement, rage, and the feeling that such demonstrations are ridiculous. Most respondents
praised the police protection, but at the same time shared feelings of rage and disappointment with the
state’s response, because it can´t stop the demonstrations and doesn´t punish (either enough or at all)
those who are responsible for organizing them. The Roma women also opened up a debate about their
own reactions to these demonstrations, whether it is right to hide from them, or whether it would be
more appropriate to join counter-demonstrations or ght against the demonstrations in some other way
(e.g. through Roma self-organization). One respondent said that in her opinion, the demonstrations are
a consequence of white people settling problems among themselves, and the Roma are just abused as
a means of denying the problems that members of the majority society have among themselves. A few
opinions illustrate the above-mentioned conclusions.
“When I see [the ultra-right demonstrations], I feel enraged – why is this happening in the first place, why
does our government allow it? It escalates all the time and in my opinion the government supports it because
it does nothing against it. The hateful atmosphere escalates. We are mainly afraid. There is fear among us.”
“When someone joins [the demonstrations], those are the dissatisfied people who have their own problems
at home. They are anonymous and they can aggressively display their emotions, but this is not directed at
us, it’s directed at the government. The people who don´t attend demonstrations but watch them on TV
like me should be aware of this. They say we Gypsies are guilty because the state has huge debts, but we
all know it´s not about Gypsies, it´s about white people. Let those who are on top tidy things up among the
whites and then turn to us.”
Feelings of fear and insecurity related to the ultra-right demonstrations, which society cannot handle,
spread also among Roma children.
“M: It´s fear for oneself, for one’s children, one’s family. Do you understand why it happened? Why do these
people do it?
A: So they can rule. To show us this [society] belongs to them and we are immigrants here. That´s how they
understand it, that this all belongs to them.
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Currently Roma self-organizing functions more through transfer of information about when the demonstrations will take place and who
will hide in whose place.
M=the interviewer, A, B C and D=different respondents.
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B: They yell it, they say that we are immigrants, that this is not our home. Then how do I explain to my two
children that this is our home that we were born here? When they came home from school, they were little,
and they said: ’Mum, they call us Gypsies.’ They had never heard the word before, they didn´t know what it
meant, but suddenly they learned it at school. ‘What is the difference?’ they asked me suddenly when they
read in their primer, it was written there, ‘How do you recognize a Roma?’ ’You can tell someone is a Roma
if they have a black face and steal.’ All of the children, the whole class turned to my son, because he was
the only dark one in the class, and he came home to ask me why. Do Roma steal? I told him I had no idea
something like that was written in the textbook, I read it myself and I had no explanation to give to my child,
why he is unwanted at school.”
C: It´s a terrible feeling, it´s fear. You have no one to lean on, no one to turn to, no one to stand up for you.
Consider that it´s all from TV, and people are so easy to influence and even when it happens in the opposite
corner of the country, we in Prague feared for our children and decided not to let them go outside. You also
become afraid that it will happen near you, you never know who will join [the ultra-right], you never know
who will attack you, who will hit you, nothing. Simply fear, helplessness, the end, your end. You don´t even
feel you´re at home.”
D: You know, I think it´s a mistake. I come from Vítkov, where the Natálka affair happened, and when [the
ultra-right] held demonstrations, then our Gypsies, Roma went to park, close to the square where they were
holding the demonstrations, and they also held (counter)demonstrations. They simply sang and danced
there despite the demonstrations and that was the mistake.
A: What was the mistake, to attend or not to [the counter-demonstrations]?
C: Not to attend.
It is necessary to stress that we also recorded opinions that concrete respondents never encountered
discrimination.
“We have no such problems, I never had the feeling I was discriminated. Never really, neither I nor my
children. It never happened.”
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This question was answered by respondents who don´t share a household with a man.
GENDER (IN)EQUALITY
When answering a battery of questions related to gender (in)equality, our respondents said that decisions
in their families are made by wife and husband together (44 %), followed by “mostly” or “definitely” by
the wife (34 %), while 22 % answered that decisions were made “mostly” or “definitely” by the husband
(“definitely” husband 7 %). The following graph shows the results.
Graph 5. Who decides in your family?
0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 50
Definitely wife
Most ly wif e
Toget her
Mostly husband
Definitely husband
Family decisions
Source: Research.
When asked if someone else makes family decisions apart from the spouses, 34 respondents answered
that their own mothers or parents do.
504 respondents answered questions about who takes care of children: ”Definitely” or “mostly” the
woman - 59 %, together – 39 %, “definitely” or “mostly” the man, 2.2 %. If someone else participated
in child care (65 respondents answered), then most often it was the respondent´s mother (the other
respondents either had no children or had adult children). Household chores are done mostly by women
(59 %), 38 % together (men and women) and 2 % by men. A minority of respondents who don´t share
household with a man said their own mothers take care of the household. 76 % of Roma women think
that parental leave should be taken by mothers, 22 % by both parents, and 2 % by fathers.
The focus group interviews about gender (in)equality point to a wide range of opinions about gender
roles in households and family decision-making and touch upon the subject of domestic violence.
We recorded opinions relatively often that the man is head of the family and his main role is to provide
for it. Our respondents often used the metaphor that the man is the head of the family but the woman is
the neck, which directs where the head turns. Some Roma women think the main reason why the man
has the main role in the family is respect for Roma traditions.
“In my opinion, at least in our home, my husband has the main role. He´s head of the family, but I am the
neck that turns the head.”
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“I would also say that my husband is head of the family, mainly because he makes more money than me,
that´s number one. Number two, it´s a given. The husband has to be the head of the family, at least we Roma
have it that way, although I can only speak for myself. I don´t have a Roma husband, my husband is Czech,
but during our 32 years of marriage he has adopted our mentality. He simply knows this is how we Roma
have it, the husband is head of the family, and when something is happening, the husband says: This is how
we deal with it. The same goes for the children, when they have problems, they go to their father. They go to
their mother as well, but it´s the father who decides whether you need or don´t need help, the man decides.”
Despite these opinions about traditions, some respondents were critical towards the described behavior
of men.
“I would like to add that it really is so, and sometimes it´s practiced because of culture or tradition, but I think
it´s more that the man decides without consulting the woman, he decides and that´s it, and the woman
must submit in such situations, she has to sacrifice her personal freedom, the limits are given and the man
decides. A woman can´t make decisions on her own to, say, go to a party or go away somewhere for two
days – that´s impossible, because her husband won´t allow that, in that respect Roma men are selfish
towards their women.”
Some respondents think that male dominance is a remainder of the past and that their own situation
now is more equal.
“We are equal at home. I listen to my husband or partner, but if he’s not right, I protest and I manage to push
through what I think is right. However, when we have problems, we deal with them together, not him only or
me only. There are two of us and we have to solve things together. He´s not the only master at home. Today
we are equal, he has rights and I have rights, too.”
The respondents differed in opinions as to whether men (husbands) should also be able to use paternity
leave. Some didn´t mind, some even had experience with it, when their partner couldn´t nd a job or
when the women (wives) earned more. Part of them, however, thought the men wouldn´t be able to
handle their children, or that they would feel less esteemed if they had to stay on paternity leave.
The respondents could not agree on how widespread domestic violence is in Roma families. While
some claimed there was no violence around them, some claimed it happened regularly.
“A woman who says that her man doesn´t love her if he doesn´t hit her - that is, I´m sorry, but that´s outrageous.”
“That [domestic violence] doesn´t exist around us.”
“Every third Gypsy family, I stand behind this claim.”
“They are right, if he doesn´t hit her, he doesn´t love her.”
“The wife looks good, the children are well-behaved, if you meet them in the street, everything looks fine, but
God forbid what happens behind closed doors.”
“I saw it in my surroundings, you are right.”
“This happens to women in the Roma community, you are right.”
Despite rather traditional gender role divisions, sometimes justied by Roma tradition, we also perceived
a pragmatic tendency to divide roles according to the situation (who earns more) or to solve the problems
in families together, according to who does what better.
16
RELATIONSHIPS, FAMILY AND COMMUNITY LIFE
We were further interested in the relationships and family/community life of the respondents.
Graph 6. Marital status.
Source: Research.
The majority of the respondents do not consider themselves to be single parents (63 %) while 32 % do.
Of the latter, 5 % claim they have no one to support them or that extended family helps them. 45 % of
respondents prefer marriage to cohabitation, while 37 % prefer the opposite. It is noteworthy that 18
% cannot decide.
We asked questions to find out whether women know about the rights and obligations stemming from
marriage or cohabitation. The answers suggest that the majority of women know that spouses are
entitled to know about the joint assets and earnings of their partners. 61 % think, however that spouses
have no mutual support obligations in marriage. Almost all the Roma women from our sample know that
by concluding a marriage, spouses create joint assets and that according to law, the wife and husband
are equal in marriage. 60% knew that an informal partner was not entitled to a pension should their
partner die. However, 34 % of the respondents did not know that children born out of wedlock have
the same rights as children born to married parents. 47% did not know that in a criminal proceedings,
the husband has the same position as a unmarried partner (with whom they live). 78 % know that child
support obligations are not related to whether a father is married to the mother or not.
17
Graph 7 presents the age at which the respondents concluded their marriages. However, 254 respondents
were not married.
Graph 7. Age of marriage.
Source: Research.
The ideal marriage age, according to most respondents, is 25, followed by age 20 and then age 30. The
vast majority of Roma women say they married for love, with “pregnancy” and “children” the second
and third most frequent responses. 29 % of respondents have two children, 21 % have three, 19 %
have only one, 11 % have four and 6 % have five. The following table shows how old the respondents
were when they had their first child.
Table 1. Age of respondents when they had their first child.
Age % women who had their first child at given age
19 18 %
18 16 %
20 14 %
21 9 %
22 7 %
17 6 %
16 5 %
Source: Research, number of answers 504
Most respondents consider having two children optimal, with three children and then one child to be
the second and third most frequent responses.
Decisions in the family about contraception and pregnancy are “definitely” made by the women in 43
% of such cases, “mostly” made by the women in 28 % of such cases, “together” in 24 % of decisions
and “definitely” or “mostly” by men in 6 % of such cases.
18
Answers Number of answers
Love 189
Trust 151
Tolerance 136
Understanding 73
Fidelity 48
Finance 36
Employment 24
Children 20
Housing 11
Family 10
Communication 9
Sex 7
Patience 5
I don´t know 16
The following table shows the diversity of answers respondents gave when asked what the foundation
of a successful marriage is.
Table 2. Foundation of a successful marriage.
Source: Research.
The respondents think a daughter’s role in the family lies mainly in “helping her parents and taking care
of the household” (141 answers), followed by “same as sons´” (48 answers), “important” (32 answers)
and “none” (17 answers); 40 women said they didn´t know. When asked what the role is of sons in the
family, the most frequent answer was “helping parents/mother in household” (57 answers), followed
by “providing for family” (48 answers), then “taking care of the household” (43 answers) and “same as
daughters´” (43 answers). An important difference was revealed in the number of those who answered
“school and to learn”. While there are only 10 answers that school is important for daughters in the
family, there were 25 such answers regarding sons. Roughly the same number of respondents said
they didn´t know with respect to sons. The following table shows which roles the respondents ascribe
to daughters and to sons by frequency of answers.
Table 3. Roles of daughters and sons in the family.
Daughters Roles by frequency Sons Roles by frequency
Help parents/mother in
household
Help parents/mother in household
Take care of household Providing for family
The same like sons´ Take care of household
Important The same like daughters´
None Learning (at school)
Cleaning Working
Cooking Important
School Protection
Progeny
The same like fathers´
Source: Research.
19
Finally, the family providers are in 200 cases men (husband/partner/father), followed by women
(164) and both partners (160); 28 respondents declared that their own parents provide for them.
We asked if the respondents have a feeling of belonging to the community where they live. Our
question was first directed at belonging to the community where they live, regardless of its ethnic
composition. The following graph shows that a majority of respondents gave a positive answer, but
we also got negative responses. The graph also shows how Roma women answered the question
of whether they have a feeling of belonging to the Roma community.
Graph 8. Feeling of belonging to (non-Roma) and Roma community.
Source: Research.
The biggest difference is in the answer “no”, where we see a rather strong lack of feeling of belonging
to the local (non-Roma) community.
Almost 80 % of women answered “yes” or “definitely yes” to the question asking if there is a feeling
of solidarity (belonging) among Roma women. A negative answer was given by only 7 % but 48 %
of respondents would not leave their child in the care of their neighbor (temporarily), of which 24 %
“definitely” would not. Only 35 % would do so (10 % “definitely yes”).
In the focus groups regarding this set of questions, the Roma women declared relatively early ages
of marriage and childbirth. At the same time, most said they got married and had children out of
their own free will and did not see it as something negative. However, most of them have noticed
that their daughters don´t want to marry as early as they did and that the number of single mothers
is on the increase, while in their day this was seen as shameful.
The respondents often did not speak Romani. If they did, often they did not teach their children
to speak it. As a consequence, some Roma children understand but cannot speak Romani. Some
respondents said they did not feel an obligation to speak Romani and that they do so only with
some Roma people and not with others.
20
M(oderator): What about Romani, do you speak it?
G: I do but my children don´t, not one of them.
M: You don´t teach them?
G: I don´t.
M: And you?
B:. I speak, the children don´t, they understand but they don´t speak.
M: You never speak Romani to them?
B: I speak to them - they don´t answer, but they understand.
C: I don´t speak, my parents didn´t speak it with me and my children don´t speak it either.
D: I speak Romani and my children as well, we keep the traditions kept by my parents and
grandparents.
E: My parents didn´t speak Romani, but I do.
M: Will you teach your son Romani?
E:. I won’t force him. I won’t speak Romani. It depends on the Gypsy I meet, with some I speak
Romani, with some I don´t.
F: I understand Romani but I don´t speak, the same with my children.
M: But how did they learn it then?
F: Their father, their grandmother, Romani was spoken all the time, we lived together, that´s why it was
spoken all the time, that´s how they got it, so they understand but don´t speak.”
In this section we registered the opinion that self-confidence is essential for how the Roma
are treated by the majority. According to one respondent, majority-society members seek out
defenseless Roma and do not dare to be unpleasant with self-confident Roma.
“I think they dare only with some. When they see before them a Roma who does not know how to
defend him/herself, they get rid of him/her. This has never happened to me.”
21
EDUCATION
In accordance with the above-mentioned importance of education, 85 % of respondents said
they would support their children in further education; only 6 % said they would not. If they had
to choose between support for their sons´ or daughters´ education, respondents said they would
choose based on school results (and not their children´s sex), followed by “I don´t know” and “I
would rather support my son”. Of the reasons the respondents cited for supporting sons, we most
often got the answer that the son will provide for the family and that boys are more assertive, but
from the other responses it seems that Roma mothers make no distinctions between their sons and
daughters when it comes to support for education.
Let´s have a look at the actual educational achievements reported for the children of our
respondents.
Graph 9. Type of school attended by children of the respondents.
Source: Research.
In the focus groups, when education was discussed, we repeatedly heard the opinion that
education nowadays is crucial not only for nding a good job, but also for building self-esteem.
The respondents often said they regretted not having devoted enough time to education when they
were younger and that they are eager to work on their education now. Almost all of them said they
would take advantage of an opportunity for re-training or further education should their financial
situation permit it.
“You simply don´t even have to have a job, but if you go somewhere and a Czech sees that s/he has
someone before him/her who is no fool, then s/he dares to do less against you. The Czechs have a
tendency that when they see a fool, some primitive Gypsy, they behave toward him/her accordingly, but
if they see someone smart, then they are afraid.”
“It´s important. If I knew back then what I know now, I would have been just studying and studying in
elementary school.”
9
If children attended different schools, that was taken into account in the overall results.
9
22
For further education, Roma women said they try to apply for re-training courses at Labor Offices
but, apart from one respondent, none of them has experienced successes in enrolling in a course
after filling out the forms. Occasionally they manage to complete a course offered by an NGO,
mostly related to computer skills. They have interest in further education (not just courses) but
they either do not know that there are scholarships available especially for members of the Roma
community or they do not want to take advantage them because they feel it is humiliating to have
to provide confirmation of their Roma origin.
The situation gets worse when it comes to the educational experiences of the children of our
respondents. Despite having the same enthusiasm and yearning for education as all other children,
most Roma women respondents say their children experienced some form of discrimination,
conflict or exclusion during the process of education. However, the experience is different on a
case-by-case basis, and some Roma women have positive experiences of teachers supporting
their children and not allowing them to be placed into “practical schools”.
All respondents preferred mixed classes to Roma-only classes or to classes consisting of a Roma
majority. This is mainly because they think mixed classes yield better scholastic results and teach
children how to live together and how to build relations in the wider community (children know each
other from school, and in smaller towns they meet each other also as adults). Some respondents
gave consent for their children´s transfer to “practical schools”, mostly out of fears for their children’s
safety or self-confidence. However, they did not believe the psychologists´ assessments that their
children had “light mental disability”. We also heard critical voices towards Roma parents who
send their children to the “practical” (or special) schools. Those schools are seen as insufficient
and of low quality. There were also opinions that some Roma parents don´t support their children´s
education because they themselves have no experience with the advantages a good education
brings.
10
“I think Roma parents send their children to special schools voluntarily because it´s easier for them, they
don´t have to study with their children.”
“The knowledge of Roma children is at the special school level, they lack basic knowledge, kindergarten
knowledge. They don´t know how to speak, they have poor vocabularies, they are not prepared for
classes, they have no school equipment. They start reading classes in the first grade but at the end of
school year they still can´t read.”
“He attended (special school) until the fifth grade, but he didn´t know how to write.”
If the respondents had children in mixed classes, as they advanced with age to higher classes, the
number of their Roma classmates decreased.
“There is a public school where we live in Trmice. Our Emil, our boy, he is 14, and as he goes now to
the higher classes, the Roma are dropping out. Either they drop out or they go to ‘practical schools’,
but when he started there were 18 Roma out of 27. Now there are only five.”
Roma mothers often don´t know how to proceed in cases of discrimination at schools, particularly
since the hateful approach starts at an early age, when it is clear that children are parroting the
opinions of adults.
“My son, when he went to school (…) the other children insulted him because he was Gypsy. Already
when he was five. I was getting him dressed at the kindergarten and he said, ‘Mum, this boy insulted me
because I am Gypsy.’ I gave the boy a deadly looks and said, ‘You will insult people for being Gypsies?
Should I tell your mum? Should I pull you by your ears?’ He looked at me in fear. His sister asked the
“There is no stupid Roma child, but they need special care.”
10
23
boy: ‘Are you really insulting your classmate?’ You teach racism from an early age, a five-year-old child
(...). It starts at school.”
“Because their parents warn them ‘There will be Gypsies in your kindergarten, watch out.’”
Sometimes the respondents said majority-society members “show off” in front of Roma children to
compensate for their own low social status. However, the Roma women are also skeptical when it
comes to the more afuent and more educated part of the majority society.
“A: These are mostly dirty gadje parents, those who are beggars… It is true, those gadje who are a bit
lower, they are the ones who are against the Gypsies. Those who are more educated, they don´t dare,
they don´t teach their children this, or rather they do teach them, but…
B: Not that obviously.”
Some respondents said they think it is necessary to prepare oneself for discrimination of Roma
children in the schools and to follow one´s own path regardless.
“I live all my life among the gadje, all my life, I was the only [Roma] in primary school and in secondary
school, the only one. I didn´t mind, I was used to it, although from time to time they didn´t treat me
well. They didn´t treat me badly, but when we went out for a walk with the school, for example, nobody
wanted to walk with me. Or for example in secondary school, when we went for a school trip, nobody
wanted to share a room with me, but I was prepared for it, I felt like I didn´t care.”
However, discriminatory occurrences are frequent, and they originate both from classmates and
teachers.
“It happened to me, my daughter went to school and she didn´t want to go because she said she was
lonely there all the time. The teacher dedicated time to gadje children and she was sitting in the corner
alone. I said to myself, we will stop this. Why? Because she´s sitting alone in the corner. She packed
up her stuff and that was it.”
“My [non-Roma] partner used to go to parent-teacher meetings, so everyone at school saw him. Once
I went instead and that was it. My son was devastated because now children knew his mother was
Gypsy.”
As we already mentioned, there were also cases when teachers gave support to a Roma child.
“No, no. It never happened to me. My sister came to me saying that her son can´t handle school at all
and that she requested his transfer to a special school, to the ‘practical’ one, and they didn´t allow it,
the school disagreed. They constantly tried to include him so he doesn´t have to leave regular school.”
It is disappointing that even educated Roma have no faith that their acquired knowledge will help
them prosper in Czech society.
“For example, I went through the education system fully, I am studying at a second university program
now, although I have interrupted it for the time being. And the more I educate myself, the less the
education has importance for me, because if I am a Roma woman, even with education, whenever I
go somewhere in society, it is automatically assumed that I am not educated. Even when I show my
graduation papers it means nothing in contemporary Central Europe. What is essential is that people
see us as human beings, and as long as Roma are not seen as human beings, education will be
irrelevant for us.”
11
Non-Roma in Romani.
11
24
EMPLOYMENT
Most women from our sample say they are “unemployed”, followed by “employed”, “on maternity
leave” and “retired”. The main reason for their unemployment was, according to the respondents, a
lack of job opportunities. That was decisively the most frequent reason given, but let´s have a look
at the other reasons.
Graph 10. Unemployment reasons.
0
10
20
30
40
50
60
70
80
90
Unemployment reasons
Source: Research.
The respondents declared no strong wish to move for work; 47 % would “never” or “rather not” move
for work, but 37 % would “definitely” or “rather” move. It is noteworthy that 19 % do not know. On the
other hand, the majority of respondents would be willing to educate themselves further for work and take
up re-training courses; 21 % rejected further education even if it would help their work. Only 10 % are
considering running their own business; 69 % rejected the possibility, either strongly or just saying no.
The following table shows the list of professions the respondents were currently working in with the
frequency of answers given.
Table 4. Professions of the respondents.
Profession Number of answers
Cleaning 30
Shop assistant 25
Manual worker 19
Cook in restaurants 15
Gardening 8
Waitress 6
Cashier 6
Working in bars 4
Assistant 4
Source: Research.
25
14 % of the women work in jobs they have no formal qualication for, 23 % of them repeatedly.
This was most frequent in professions such as cleaning, shop assistant, manual worker and cook.
Most respondents (72 %) had no experience with being fired during the trial period, but 23 % had
experienced it. The overall majority of respondents think there are not enough job opportunities where
they live (82 %), 9 % can´t tell and 6 % think there are. Job market access is seen as problematic by
60 %, 23 % thinks it is not problematic and 14 % doesn´t know.
The focus groups interviews showed that women had different opinions on the question of whether
the job market gives preferential treatment to Roma women or Roma men. Those who thought the
former said that women deal with conflicts better, that Czechs are less afraid of Roma women, that
women can do jobs in kitchens and that they can clean (these are less visible professions), but we
also heard the opinion that Roma men are afraid to work. Those who thought the job market favors
Romani men said men can work in professions involving hard physical labor, that no one ever asks a
man about his family plans, and that an attractive woman does not have to work (i.e., she can find a
man to provide for her).
“I think that in the last two years women are in a better position to find work, because the majority in
society doesn´t mind that much if a woman is Roma, that she is black, they simply need workers, but
when a Roma man applies for work and he is 2 meters tall they prefer to say they will take someone else,
because nowadays, when the [Roma] unemployment rate is almost 80 %, they are bothered by Roma
men, that´s why I think women are in a better position and it doesn´t matter if she has an education or she
has no education, they prefer a woman.”
“I would like to add that a woman always has worse chances than men, because with a woman it is
automatically assumed when she is young that she has children, that she will be absent from work
when the children are sick, that she won´t be good at her work because of that, but as someone already
mentioned, women are currently more active, they participate more than guys. The guy, if you think about
it, sits at home and has no choice. A woman has a better chance to participate and work in various
service-provision jobs, in manual labor professions, she can help in the voluntary sector, clean, look after
someone´s kids and so on. There are more opportunities for women, re-training, etc.”
Almost all respondents declared that they want to work; they would prefer to stay at home only if their
children were very young. Otherwise they consider work important, not only for financial reasons, but
also for personal development. There were also opinions expressed that the main role of a woman is
mainly to take care of the home and there were nostalgic memories of times when a woman was not
expected to work. However, the focus group respondents said they would prefer a full-time job and
almost all of them said they would be willing to move for work (contrary to what was found out via the
questionnaire).
“We live in the modern age. Nowadays both [partners] can work, it´s not like it used to be, that a woman
had to stay at home and take care of the kids and cook, and a guy had to go to work, and they both have
more money and their children go to school. Now a girl has to go to work, too. It´s miserable.”
Some elderly respondents said it was better during socialism, when indeed work was compulsory and
everyone had work (including Roma), but also people didn´t change jobs, so they had time to build
good relations with their co-workers.
“I think the biggest problem of this society is that there is no obligation to work.”
“The employment was artificial [during socialism] but we went to work at 6 AM and we were back home
at 3 PM. Nowadays it´s also artificial, but in the sense that people get money for not working from the
Labor Offices.”
“They are turning young people into invalids.”
26
“They sit around outside and gamble because they know they will get money.”
“This modern democracy has destroyed people. Especially Gypsies. Democracy totally destroyed Gypsaies, it
has already destroyed a second generation of them.”
“R: I had no problems with work. I learned a trade in a factory [during socialism] and worked there for 36 years. I
knew of no other job than that. I worked there until my husband fell ill and I had to stop working because of him.
M: You have never felt discriminated against at work?
R: No. We worked in a plant, there were 10 of us women, we knew each other for years. We shared the work
equally so we could earn equally, each one of us. That´s why I have never felt discriminated.”
When asked if they have ever found a job with the help of the Labor Ofces, all of the respondents said no.
The process of looking for a job through Labor Ofces is very formal; it requires lling out forms and then
receiving information that there are no jobs available. In the end, the respondents said they always found
jobs on their own. However, it did happen occasionally that Labor Ofce employees did not believe the
respondents really want to work.
“I asked her, ‘Why wouldn´t I want to work? I am coming here [to the Labor Office] because I am looking
for a job, am I not?’ And she says: ‘I don´t know if you are looking for a job.’ I said, ‘But I am here, I am filling in the
forms, why would I do that? Am I lying?’ She says: ‘I don´t know.’ I say, ‘I want to work, but I have some health
limitations.’ She says: ‘But they were recently looking for a dishwasher.’ I say, ‘I went there, twice, but my health
condition doesn´t permit my taking the job. I simply can´t.’ And she says, ‘Then go and be a chambermaid [in a
hotel].’ I can´t do that, do you seriously think they will take a Roma as a chambermaid? They told me openly there
that I would be stealing, what would I do there?”
Not all women experienced discrimination while looking for a job or at work. However, it does happen
regularly, mostly in the form of telling Roma candidates that the job has been lled.
“Sometimes they tell you openly: We hire no Roma.”
“Yes, when you call them they tell you, ‘Come, we have a vacant post.’ When you go there in person, they tell
you it´s occupied.”
“I called on the phone for a job and they told me they had a vacancy, that I should come, bring my stuff, and
then the guy saw me at the restaurant and said, ‘I´m sorry we don´t hire Roma nationality.’ He told me that directly
and it happened many times.”
“I worked in a bakery as a shop assistant and everything worked fine until the owner found out I was Roma. ’The
good people’ told her I was Roma and I was fired.”
The respondents who have not experienced discrimination at work mostly said it was because relations
were good and they knew they could openly talk about problems at work.
“I worked in Globus, there I had some problems, but I had a good crew, we really understood each other well.
There were three of us Roma women there, and the rest were white, and it was good, it was really good. We
were a good crew, we had each other´s back. If something happened we would solve it among us and there
was peace.”
Our focus groups interviews showed that Roma women have a great interest to work, are willing to travel
because of work, and would work either full-time or part-time. However, at the same time they are plagued
by feelings of helplessness and disappointment at the obstruction they meet in the job market which is
mainly due to their Roma origin. Here as well we registered fear that the mistakes of Roma individuals would
be generalized onto the whole Roma population. Roma women were aware that the failure of one Roma
damages the whole community.
27
HEALTH AND REPRODUCTION
Most of our questionnaire respondents expressed satisfaction with the availability of health
care (58 %,t of which 17 % “agree strongly”), 23 % had no opinion about it, and the rest were
unsatisfied (18 %); 455 women answered the question whether all of their children are registered
with a pediatrician, and 427 said yes. Most of them visit the pediatrician regularly for their children’s
preventive check-ups (63 %), 7 % visit irregularly, and 5 % never do.
Most of the respondents said they undergo regular gynecological check-ups (60 %), 25 % do so
irregularly and 12 % never do. Regular mammographic check-ups are undertaken by only 22 %,
11 % irregularly and 59 % not at all.
Most Roma women in our sample use contraception (83 %), most often hormonal or the IUD; 72
% say, however, that they do not plan pregnancies, 39 % became pregnant unexpectedly, and 27
% said they became pregnant sometimes unexpectedly and sometimes as planned, while 18 %
did not plan to stay pregnant if they conceived. Of the childless women, 64 individuals said they
do not want to have children at all because of their life priorities, but 85 said they do want to have
children. The number of women who strongly agreed with the statement “I want to have children in
the future” was roughly the same as those who strongly disagreed.
We asked the respondents if they talk with their children about sex (conception, contraception,
family planning): 25 % do not talk about these subjects at all, 29 % were not doing so at the time,
and 27 % answered positively. Information about periods and first sexual intercourse are given to
children mostly by their mothers (59 %) followed by both parents (10 %) and their fathers (5 %).
It seems from our questionnaire results that the respondents are well-informed about patients´
rights. The following table shows how they answered the questions designed to test their knowledge
in percentages.
Table 5. Awareness of patients´ rights.
Patient has the right to refuse, within legal limits, medical proce-
dures and at the same time has the right to be informed about
the health impact of his/her decision.
Yes No
95.7 2.0
Patients have the right to be informed about the medical condi-
tion of his/her family members.
Yes No
80.4 15.3
Patients have the right to expect that all records concerning his/
her health are considered confidential. Patients’ data protection
must be insured also in the case of electronic records.
Yes No
94.2 2.7
The patient has the right to refuse treatment at any time during
his/her hospitalization.
Yes No
86.4 9.8
Source: Research.
28
Most respondents said they consider their own health condition to be good.
Graph 11. Self-evaluation of the respondents´ health condition.
Source: Research.
In our focus group interviews concerning health we noted the least number of complaints of
discrimination. Respondents often reported positive experiences, mostly concerning gynecologists,
pediatricians and hospitalization. On the other hand, they had negative experiences with or
experienced denial of care from dentists.
“Most of us are unwanted by doctors… the dentists are the worst. General [local] practitioners adopt
the attitude ‘if it has to be, then we will take you’, but they are not happy about it. The only ones who
are accessible are pediatricians and gynecologists, but specialized doctors and general practitioners,
that´s catastrophic.”
The respondents also appreciated field social workers who spread awareness about vaccination
and preventive care. One respondent managed to engage a gynecologist organize a special lecture
for Roma women.
“We turned to a gynecologist with a request for a lecture for Roma women. We turned to a few of them,
but this one was willing to do it. Thanks to the lecture many women registered [with gynecologists].”
As an example of a positive experience that we didn´t have a chance to register in other sections
of our research, we quote this respondent:
“No, no, I can´t say anything. I recently spent 12 days in hospital and I am impressed. The health care
staff, the doctors, the head physician, they are so capable and take a wonderful approach to their
patients. I felt absolutely no difference in their approach. No. They smiled, explained everything, what
will happen next. There was no difference in their approach to Roma or white woman, they didn´t care
about that. I was really positively surprised.”
We also heard the opinion expressed that a medical staff’s approach depends on a patient´s
behavior and general condition. In the form of a critical self-reflection, Roma women said that
some Roma patients visit doctors or go to hospital in a generally neglected condition and that is
29
why some doctors refuse to admit them.
To the direct question of whether they ever felt discriminated against at medical facilities, the
respondents answered:
“No. Never. I think it all depends on individual attitude.”
“I am healthy, but I have never felt discrimination.”
“I did feel discrimination. After I was hospitalized they released me, but the problem recurred so I had
to go back to hospital. When the doctor saw me he immediately accused me, in a snappy way, of
escaping from the hospital before my treatment ended. He later apologized, but the feeling of shame
he brought upon me in front of all the other patients can´t be erased.”
“I think when doctors see that a person behaves decently, that s/he is not dirty, that s/he is normal, they
treat them normally. Recently they treated me very well.”
Two respondents mentioned that in maternity wards there are special rooms for Roma women.
The respondents said they were told it was for their own benefit, since Roma women reportedly
prefer to be together. Other respondents thought it was because Roma women have the tendency
to leave hospitals immediately after giving birth without the doctor´s approval.
Some respondents thought there was a connection between skin color and medical staff approach.
If Roma women had whiter skin, they felt no discrimination, but darker patients experienced
rejection.
Despite the fact that some respondents had undergone abortions and made the decision to do
so on their own, they thought it was an inappropriate birth control method. Some regretted it, and
some condemned Roma women who undergo abortions regularly.
“It´s up to the woman. Someone who has had five abortions should use her brain more often. It´s very
strange. It looks terrible. People take no responsibility.”
We heard a few opinions that there is an increasing tendency among Roma women to give their
children up for adoption. The respondents condemned what they saw as a very negative trend which
used to be unimaginable in the Roma community.
“It didn´t use to happen before, but these are the times now. Yes, most Roma women give their children
up for adoption, but it wasn´t like that before.”
“But there are a lot of options. Those [adopted] children suffer all their life and there are a lot of options
how not to become pregnant.”
The respondents see changes in traditional values also as positive, mainly because now people
talk much more about sex, menstruation and contraception in their families. Although not all
respondents talk about these subjects with their children (most often because of feelings of shame),
they appreciate the possibility to talk with them, that fathers now participate in sex education more,
and that information is available on the Internet. However, one respondent thought that talking about
reproductive health has no influence on children´s behavior.
“I had no husband who could talk to my son, so I had to do it. So I told him about, you know, about how to
put that thing on, you know what I mean? I was raising the alarm about syphilis, AIDS, I talked and talked
and talked about it so much that my mouth hurt, and 15 days later he tells me his girlfriend is pregnant.”
30
One interesting aspect of the discussion about contraception was the opinion of some respondents
that a Roma woman is a real woman just as long as she is able to become pregnant. We sometimes
heard negative attitudes about contraception, especially if a woman has difficulties staying pregnant.
The focus group interviews confirmed the questionnaire results that Roma women are well-versed
in the issue of patients´ rights.
31
HOUSING
In this section we were interested in the type and quality of our respondents’ housing. Graph
no. 12 displays the answers to the question of where our respondents live. Most of them live in
rented housing, a little more often in municipally-owned than in private rentals, followed by private
ownership and residential hotels.
Graph 12. Type of housing.
Typeof housing
privat e ownership
sublease - private
sublease - municipal
r esi den t i al hot el
ot her
Source: Research.
All respondents stated that they have access to water and electricity; 52 % say that two persons share
one bedroom, 18 % that one person sleeps in one bedroom, 17 % that three persons do and 7 % that
four persons do; 90 % have their own kitchen, bathroom and toilet. That means 10 % of the respondents
are accommodated in spaces without basic sanitary facilities.
Contrary to the section on health, in the section concerning housing our focus interviews report many cases
of discrimination. Almost all of our interviewees have had experience of direct discrimination in housing.
The most common form of discrimination happens when real estate agencies or private owners refuse to
rent property to people of Roma origin. Very often the discrimination is open, when the interviewees are
told that the owner does not rent to Roma or that the owner is afraid if s/he does so, his/her non-Roma
tenants will move away. Another form of discrimination happens when associations of tenants/owners
require high fees of Roma to allocate flats to them, or when petitions are launched against renting property
to Roma. Sometimes the reported discrimination in housing was carried out by municipalities.
“Sometimes we are forced to stay [in a specific flat] because hardly anyone will rent to Gypsies even when they
have money. My son paid the deposit no problem, but the other tenants saw us and they launched a petition
that they don´t want Gypsies.”
“I have experience with it, too. When I talked on the phone with someone about renting a flat he told me that I
don´t have to be afraid about Gypsies living there. I smiled and said, ‘I am Gypsy’, so he apologized and hung
up.”
32
“My son asked about rent over the phone - my son is white but my daughter-in-law is dark. On the phone
everything was fine. When they met my son, everything was fine, but when they saw my daughter-in-
law, because she is dark they said: ‘I´m sorry, I´m sorry, we don´t rent to Roma.’ ”
“I think this is the system in real estate agencies. When my husband and I were looking to rent we
contacted many real estate agencies and they told us: ‘Sorry, we don´t want Roma or pets.’ ”
“The association [of tenants or owners] demanded 15 000 CZK for us to become a member. That´s a
lot, I´ve never seen it before. Only in Krupka. Normally it´s 2 000 CZK, 3 000 CZK - but here, it’s 15 000
CZK. They can do whatever they want with us when it comes to housing. That´s not good. And every
year they raise the rents.”
“When they wrote the petition, since we live in the main street, they wrote the petition, various neighbors,
they wrote that they didn´t want Roma to live there in that street. Only our owner didn´t sign it, his whole
building is full of Roma. He lives in Germany. He said, ‘Something like this could not happen in Germany.
Do you have money to pay rent? Then you can live here. If you pay, you will live here. It doesn´t matter
what your skin color is.’ ”
“The municipality doesn´t allocate housing to Roma. The attitude of the municipality is very bad.”
The respondents are well aware that housing is where corruption occurs and that it is a “big business”.
Municipalities pay rent directly to private owners who agree to accommodate Roma who qualify
for housing assistance. Such rents, however, are usually overpriced and the housing conditions
are completely unsatisfactory. The worst situation is in residential hotels which, according to our
respondents, were often preferred as a way to solve housing for Roma.
“The main problem in residential hotels is that the water runs for only two hours in the morning, for
90 adults and children. Then it runs again only two hours in the evening. Restrooms the same. They
have to report when they want to use the restrooms. They even pay extra money for water. Bedbugs
are everywhere. Visits are prohibited. No one is allowed inside. No visitor is allowed to stand at the
entrance. They have to share the kitchen. Cold water runs only until lunch, then it´s turned off. Even cold
water doesn´t run all the time.”
“In the residential hotels the space is very small, the sanitary facilities are shared, there are bugs,
hepatitis, and dysentery. I would abolish them, but then they would have to live under a bridge, the
residential hotels are the last resort for them. In that sense, they are useful, but someone makes money
on this misery, because the residential hotels are too expensive, the price and the quality of the housing
do not correspond to one another. It´s a really good business.”
“But the government supports residential hotels, of course. It used to be possible, there were criteria
for it, state-supported residential hotel housing.”
Roma women also said they had met with usury, but more often that they had only heard about it
rather than facing it themselves. One respondent said the problem of usury concerned only Roma
in the countryside and is related to their taking out too many loans coupled with an inability to pay
them back. Another respondent mentioned that she had problems with a landlord who offered
different prices to different people and refused to conclude a lease with her.
33
PARTICIPATION IN PUBLIC LIFE
In this section our focus was on civic activities and participation in public life.
Of 591 respondents, 54 % do not vote, 34 % vote irregularly and 14 % always vote. Parent-
teacher meetings are attended by 42 % of the respondents regularly, 27 % irregularly and 31
% never. To our question of whether respondents engage in local political activities (petitions,
municipality meetings, demonstrations, public debates, etc.), 90 % gave a negative answer. Almost
no respondent is a member of a political party (97 %). The following graph demonstrates how
Roma women answered the question of whether they are interested in political issues.
Graph 13. Interest in political issues.
Source: Research.
The data show that a majority of respondents have no interest in political issues. Lack of
participation is even more prominent when we ask about membership in a non-governmental
organization (NGO), to which 94 % of respondents said no. The rest listed 21 NGOs in whose
programs they participated. Usually each NGO was listed by only one respondent, but some listed
more organizations. The following NGOs were listed by a few respondents: Slovo 21 (6), Manushe
(the women´s group within Slovo 21) (5), Khamoro-Chodov (4), IQ Roma servis (3), Roma Women
and Their Friends (2) and People in Need (2).
When we asked if they are in contact with an NGO, less than a third of the respondents said yes,
which we interpreted to mean they are NGO clients (not members). Table 6 shows the list of NGOs
and the number of respondents who confirmed they have contact with them.
34
Table 6. NGO clients.
NGOs Number
Slovo 21 27
DROM 26
R-mosty 16
IQ Roma servis 14
Charita (most often in Most) 13
Khamoro 11
Roma NGO 11
Bílý nosorožec 7
People in Need 7
Romodrom 6
Naděje 5
Romea 5
SRNM 3
Archa 3
Manushe 2
OSF 2
Prostor 2
Roma – Karlovy vary 2
Sdružení Romano – Jasnica 2
Světlo 2
Source: Research.
The focus group interviews concerning elections showed that some interviewees vote and some
don´t. Those who don´t said it was because they are disappointed with the current political
establishment and they lack faith that elections can change anything. Those who do vote try to
vote for Roma candidates (male or female). Others also declared they would vote if there was a
Roma party that would be representative enough and protect Roma interests. However, we also
heard the opinions that the current Roma candidates on the electoral lists of non-Roma parties are
listed there only to attract Roma votes and don´t solve the real problems of the Roma community.
One respondent mentioned buying Roma votes, while another said that when she was trying to
mobilize Roma voters, some asked to be paid to vote. Although almost none of the respondents
is a party member or feels represented by majority-society parties, one respondent however was
a Green Party candidate. Some respondents said that lack of participation by Roma in elections
and in political life means the position of the Roma community will never improve and that it is then
also the Roma´s fault. On the one hand, Roma feel negative attitudes from the majority society and
don´t feel represented by majority-society parties, and on the other the respondents say that Roma
don´t stick together and don´t organize.
“I would like to say that elections and election activities, voter turnout, is very important also for us
Roma, that we must finally pull together and actively participate in the life of elections, but also we must
give our vote to who we want. Because when we don´t vote, where there is a lack of Roma participation
in the elections we harm ourselves, because the votes go to other parties who gain more votes and
money. Now it´s time for active Roma participation in politics, we have two Roma parties now, and this
year we participated in European Parliament elections. We have Roma candidates there, and we will
be participating in the election in Liberec district, in the local elections, we put together a list of Roma
candidates who will support higher turnout so that Roma become represented in the local municipality
here and in other municipalities.”
35
Although the respondents declared their unwillingness to participate in elections or become party
members, they occasionally participate in civic activities such as signing petitions, joining informal
associations or attending demonstrations (e.g., Women against Racism). Somewhat surprisingly,
one respondent said she signed a petition “for Roma not to hang out in the main square. I was the
only active one as a Roma woman against Roma.” Other petitions respondents signed were about
highways and the environment. Some respondents signed a petition demanding that children get
benches and playgrounds because a municipality had removed all the benches and started giving
out fines to those sitting in front of their buildings.
“They removed the benches and said we broke them. They did it on purpose so we have nowhere to sit
in front of our buildings, but they said we broke them, and now when we go outside with our children
and we sit somewhere, we are not allowed to do that because it´s forbidden, we will have to pay fines.
They threaten us that we´ll have to pay 500 CZK or even 1 000 CZK. We are not allowed to do anything,
we bother them just by walking around here, just by standing here. Police officers walk around and
force us to leave. They removed the benches. They removed everything.”
“M: Have you tried to influence the decision so the public space would look like you think it should?
A: There was a man who walked around and we gave him our signatures for benches and a playground,
but it has already been three years since we gave him our signatures.
B: Yes, we don´t like how we live here. So we complained that police officers force us to leave the
streets, that children are not allowed to be loud, they have no sand pit, they have no place to play, but
they sent us to some forest instead.
C: We signed that we want to have everywhere slides, sand pits, and benches so our children feel
good, so they are happy and we are happy.
A: It happened after four years, they gave us one sand pit. In a year they promised benches, too, and maybe
next year they will put up a fence, and maybe in five years we will not be allowed to leave the buildings.
Because we are not allowed to stand in the streets or on the staircase.
C: It happens all the time, they claim that only Gypsies make a mess here, but gadjo children do that too, only
they are not visible. Gadjo children are in the lower part of the housing estate, they have everything there. For
us there is nothing, and if we go there, they throw us out.”
Opinions on NGOs were diverse. While the majority of respondents said NGOs advise and help them,
critical voices were also heard. The respondents appreciated NGO help when it comes to preparing
contracts, they said NGO representatives visit them at home and ask if they need help, that they organize
trips, run drop-in centers where they organize hobbies for children, sports activities, trips for children and
help them with their homework. All of this, according to them, is meaningful and increases their quality
of life.
Other respondents, however, criticized NGOs mainly because only whites are employed in them while
Roma only play the role of their clients. One wondered how the money allocated for Roma programs is
spent. We list here their (minority) views.
“I want to say this: They say there will be a celebration for Roma, we go there, but there’s no celebration.
Children are playing and getting candy. Is that a celebration for Roma? And they’re up there in the offices, and
they’re all gadje but no Roma! I don´t accept that.”
“They are mostly interested in the funding they get for Gypsies and they share it among themselves. They do
nothing for Gypsies. For example, they get one million CZK funding to build a playground, they make some
swings from old wood, take a million and in the end say, ‘The Gypsies destroyed it.’ ”
36
Roma women expressed their views about which subjects politicians should focus on. The main
issue for our respondents was solving unemployment and creating jobs. Another important issue was
destroying myths about Roma as a group abusing social benets. This subject could be a motivation for
Roma political participation. The respondents chose this subject as something of special concern.
“I would like to say that at work and everywhere among the people you can hear how Gypsies get benefits
and the state provides for them. I, my sister, my brother and half of my family are not entitled even to childcare
benefits because we all work. I have never received anything from social services because we are working
people. That´s why I think something should be done about this, because whomever I talk to, they all say,
‘Gypsies live on social benefits, they blackmail the state so there´s nothing left for the others.’ I think something
should be changed about it because at least half of it is not true.”
“I go to this new job, I work as a social worker, as an assistant in a kindergarten in Ploučnice. It´s a socially
excluded locality, only socially disadvantaged people live there, but they say, ‘Roma are on benefits, they
abuse the system,’ but it´s not true. I have witnessed now that it´s simply not true, the whites, the Czechs
are on benefits, too, and I can tell you from my own experience that they abuse them despicably. I met white
people there, a family, they are on benefits but it means she gets the benefits, she spends them on alcohol
and gambling and her children then have nothing to eat. It means not only Roma abuse or receive social
benefits.”
“In my practice I have encountered many people cursing the Roma for abusing social benefits and for getting
a lot of money, etc., but hardly anyone thinks that if a bigger family gets more money, it´s just transferred
to the owner of a residential hotel or apartment. Unfortunately, those who abuse benefits are these
pseudo-businesspeople who turn profits on human misery.”
Roma women disagree about whether it is better to teach their children Romani or not. Those who
thought it is not better said it was because they if a child learns Romani, s/he will not learn Czech properly
and might have problems at school. Some respondents think that Roma tradition is now lost among the
younger generations and that one of the reasons is that they are not taught their mother tongue.
“I´m very disappointed with the modern age, with my generation, 80 % in my generation don´t speak Romani,
and I think that Romipen , for someone to understand and feel Romipen, s/he must in the first place feel it
in his/her mother tongue, but if they were not given an opportunity to feel it, it´s a different thing. Romipen is
getting lost.
One interviewer asked what kind of society the respondents would like their grandchildren to live in. With
their answers, we will conclude the focus interview analysis.
“For sure a world without violence, without racist motives and prejudices. Simply a better world.”
“A free world, without wars.”
“A world where everyone has a job and equal opportunities.”
“I wish a world where it would be the same for a Gypsy and a gadjo. A world with no war, no violence.”
“I wish my grandchildren to live better than we live now.”
“I wish all people were good, that there was no alcohol, drugs, substances, gambling machines. They destroy
a lot of people here.”
Romipen is a collection of values and behaviors that each decent Roma should follow. Some of these values are: Respect for elderly people,
hospitality, helping those in need, solidarity, dining culture and public behavior. (http://clanky.rvp.cz/clanek/c/z/18399/ROMIPEN.html/)
12
12
37
LIFE PRIORITIES
In order to establish the life priorities of our respondents, we offered them 10 possibilities and asked them
to rank them according to importance on a scale of 1-10. The possibilities included: housing, education,
health, children, extended family, safety, career, neighborhood relations, finances and religion. In the
first place we found children, followed by health, housing and finances. A lesser value was assigned
to extended family, education and safety. The least important were career, religion and neighborhood.
The question of whether the respondents have a role model was answered by 338 of them; 88 said they
had no role model. The following table shows the first 15 role models according to frequency.
Table 9. Role models.
Role model Frequency
Mother 75
Parents 35
Father 28
Grandmother 13
I don´t know 12
God 11
Sister 11
Husband 10
Myself 9
Aunt 6
Friend 6
Brother 4
Grandparents 3
Sister-in-law 2
Grandfather 2
Source: Research.
The question “Are you proud to be Roma?” was answered by 584 respondents, 75 % of them said yes,
8 % no and 17 % didn´t know.
38
COMMUNICATION
The last section of our questionnaire was designed to find out whether Roma women use information
technology and other modern communications technologies, what they mostly use them for, and where.
69 % responded that they used information technologies such as a personal computer or tablet. They
mostly use them at home (82 %), at work (14 %) and at school (4 %). The other responses included “at
the library”, “at a friend’s place”, “in a safe house”, “at a coffee shop”, or “when visiting family”. Social
networks such as Facebook and Twitter are used by 61 % of our respondents. The main purposes
they use IT for are the following: to obtain information, for communication, job seeking, for work, for
contacts, education, fun, movies, music, games, Facebook, chat, for many purposes, Skype, photos
and to meet other people.
39
CONCLUSION
AND
RECOMMENDATIONS
40
GENERAL LIFE SATISFACTION – In this area it is necessary to improve the feeling of safety among
Roma women, which has been predominantly damaged by an increase in the invasions of public space
by the ultra-right. It is indeed positive that Roma trust the Czech Police will protect them; however, it
is necessary for the state and local administrations, as well as the political establishment, to cooperate
in condemning expressions of violence and attempts to eliminate Roma from the public space.
Roma inform each other about anti-Roma demonstrations and more and more they are organizing
counter-demonstrations. The material safety and well-being of their families, as the main priorities of
Roma women, cannot be secured without ending discrimination in employment and education. The
government should actively support initiatives aimed at breaking down stereotypes about Roma women
and support NGOs combating generalizations and those who blame all Roma for the mistakes of a few.
GENDER (IN)EQUALITY – In Roma families, the traditional division of gender roles between a care-
providing woman and money-providing man persists, but family issues are decided jointly. Not all women
perceive the traditional gender role division as positive. Easier access to education and work could help
them become more independent. Considering that women care for the children in most Roma families,
including their education and communications with the school, it is of the utmost importance to focus
on improving the position of Roma women in general in Czech society by including them in programs
focusing on their specific needs. It is recommended to carry out research on the incidence of domestic
violence in Roma communities.
RELATIONSHIPS, FAMILY AND COMMUNITY LIFE – As stated above, in the Roma community,
slightly more women prefer marriage to informal cohabitation. It seems that the formal nature of the
relationship is not essential to them. Our research shows that women mostly know about the rights and
responsibilities in marriage. However, in cases of cohabitation, the situation is different, as one-third
did not know that children born out of wedlock have the same legal rights as those born in wedlock.
Almost two-thirds don´t know about mutual responsibility between spouses when it comes to financial
security. Although roles assigned to sons and daughters in Roma families are most often identical, they
are different in putting more stress on expecting daughters to take care of the household while putting
more stress on school success in the case of sons. Thus we could conclude that Roma girls should
receive more support in the education system in order to diminish the deficit in their time necessary
to do household work. It is positive that most women share the feeling of belonging to their local
(non-Roma) community and also their Roma community. However, it is noteworthy that the absence of
this feeling appears more often in cases of belonging to the local (non-Roma) community. Particularly
outstanding was the answer “definitely not” when asked about their feeling of belonging to the local,
ethnically non-defined, community. Here there is space to increase solidarity and cooperation within
local communities consisting both of non-Roma and Roma.
Our respondents often don´t speak Romani, and if they do, they rarely teach their children to speak it.
As a consequence, some children understand Romani but can´t speak it. Some respondents expressed
the opinion that they don´t feel obliged to speak Romani and that they speak it with some people, while
with others they speak Czech. Full bilingual competence can be beneficial in the education process;
however, it has to be supported and developed. It would be appropriate to support families who want
to teach their children Romani in the education process.
EDUCATIONS our research showed that an overwhelming majority of Roma women want to be
educated and want their children to be educated, too. Women would be willing to take re-training
courses and undergo further education if adequate programs were available and their financial and
family situations would allow them to do so. Re-training courses, however, should be connected to
obtaining jobs. Literature on the negative impact of segregation and discrimination of Roma children in
the Czech education system has been widely available in the Czech Republic already for some time,
and there is also a considerable amount of literature on recommendations how to change this impact;
our research can only add that our findings show that almost no Roma woman wants her child to
attend “practical” school. Almost all respondents agreed that the knowledge acquired in the “practical”
41
schools is insufficient; when they are forced to place their children in such schools, they almost never
agree with the psychological assessment finding their children to have “light mental disability”. The
reasons they still give their consent to transfer their children to “practical” schools are social and related
to discrimination, but almost never to their conviction that it is better for their children´s education.
From that perspective, the existence of the “practical” schools is a waste of human capital. We can
only recommend that the interest of Roma women in education and in the education of their children
be used for a concerted effort to remove discrimination in education. Mixed classes of Roma and
non-Roma enable children to meet each other and create bonds, and they allow teachers to work on
removing prejudices from an early age. For that, however, it is necessary to include discussion of racial
and other stereotypes in the regular school curriculum. It is also necessary to enforce standards of
teachers´ behavior at work in order to stop expressions of intolerance and discrimination by teachers.
EMPLOYMENT – Roma women want to work, look for employment actively, are often relatively willing
to travel for work and to educate themselves more for better jobs, and to work part-time. They prefer
working to staying at home. They are, however, prevented from working both by a general lack of job
opportunities, which affects everyone, and by discriminatory practices on the job market. Our focus
group interviews showed repeated experiences of our respondents with being denied jobs because of
their Roma nationality. It is necessary to increase awareness among employers both about the fact that
it is illegal to discriminate, and about the benefits coming from diversity management (the improvement
of work conditions and the profit increases in ethnically diverse work teams).
HEALTH AND REPRODUCTION – Roma women have mostly positive experiences with the
availability and quality of health care. It is, however, necessary to separate their positive experiences
with gynecologists, pediatricians and hospitals from their negative experiences with dentists, general
practitioners and specialists. It is necessary to establish what the obstacles in the latter medical
professions are and spread the positive attitude of the former. It is highly positive that Roma women
mostly go to regular preventive gynecological check-ups, have their children registered with pediatricians,
and take them to regular preventive check-ups. It is equally positive that they have good knowledge
about patients´ rights. They mostly use contraception. Often they do not speak about reproductive
health in their families, but the situation is changing gradually and the subjects of protection and sex are
more often discussed (sometimes even fathers participate). It is obvious that women are gatekeepers
for awareness and care in the field of health protection, and that is why it is necessary to expand social
worker and physician programs in this field, following the example one respondent gave when she
organized a lecture given by a gynecologist especially for Roma women. In the area of healthcare we
found the fewest number of complaints of discrimination.
HOUSING – In contrast with the previous section, discrimination was mentioned in this section very
often. The vast majority of respondents met with direct discrimination in housing. The most common
form of discrimination happens when real estate agencies or private owners refuse to lease property
to people of Roma origin. Very often the discrimination is open, when interviewees are told that the
owner does not rent to Roma or that he is afraid that if s/he does, his/her non-Roma tenants will move
away. Another form of discrimination happens when associations of tenants/owners require high fees
to allocate flats to Roma or when petitions are launched against renting property to Roma. Sometimes
discrimination in the housing of our interviewees was carried out by municipalities. Many such cases
would qualify as breaches of Antidiscrimination Law and require legal measures. We also recommend
carrying out research on usury incidence in the Roma community. We also recommend making the
rules regulating renting property to Roma through private companies subsidized by public money more
restrictive. It is necessary to carry out hygienic inspections in residential hotels.
PARTICIPATION IN PUBLIC LIFE – It has already been mentioned that civic activity among Roma
women is not outstanding; however, half of them participate in voting, one-third regularly. Relatively few
Roma women attend parent-teacher meetings, and one-third never attend them. They engage in local
political life (petitions, participation in local council meetings) very sporadically. Almost no Roma women
42
are political party or NGO members. It is, however, noteworthy that they are often NGO clients. We
recommend the NGO sector develop efforts to engage Roma women more as members and not just as
clients. On the one hand, Roma women are affected by the negative atmosphere in the majority part of
society and don´t feel represented by majority-society parties, and on the other they say Roma do not
stick together or self-organize. It is of the utmost importance, in our view, to support Roma women in
the areas of political participation and association. Our research seems to show that awareness of such
activities is on the increase among Roma women, as is individual activity and realization of the Roma
community’s responsibility for its (non)participation in public life.
LIFE PRIORITIES – In order to establish the life priorities of our respondents we offered 10 possibilities
and asked them to rank them according to their importance on a scale from 1 to 10. The possibilities
included: housing, education, health, children, extended family, safety, career, neighborhood relations,
finances and religion. In the first place we find children, followed by health, housing and finances. Lesser
value was assigned to extended family, education and safety. The least important were career, religion
and neighborhood. Most respondents declared they are proud to be members of the Roma community.
COMMUNICATION – Roma women use information technologies such as PCs or tablets, mostly from
home. Most women also use social networks such as Facebook or Twitter. The main purposes they
use the IT for are the following: to obtain information, for communication, job seeking, for work, for
contacts, education, fun, movies, music, games, Facebook, chat, for many purposes, Skype, photos
and to meet other people. We can´t stress enough the potential for awareness-raising, transfer of
information, education, job opportunities and associating with others that information technologies and
social networks involve. We recommend both the state administration and civil society make more use
of this potential.
43
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ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any references for this publication.