Thursday, April 28, 2016

EU in fight against Roma stereotypes

In order to battle pervasive stereotypes against the Roma community, the European Commission organized a seminar titled "For Roma With Roma" in Strasbourg on Tuesday and Wednesday.

This two-day seminar assembled accredited journalists from European institutions or coming from member states of the EU, members of local authorities and representatives of NGOs working on Roma integration.

  • The Roma community represents up to 10 percent of the population in some member states of the European Union (EU).

According to representatives of the European Commission, the objective of the event was to give journalists the opportunity "to tell a different story of the Roma and to that demonstrate their desire is above all to integrate themselves and to have successful lives in the countries where they have chosen to settle."

The event is also attempting to change the negative image of the Roma community in letting journalists discover a different reality than those usually spread by the media.

"From the beginning, the idea didn't come from the European Commission, but from young Roma themselves," Ann Hyde, the project's organizer, explained to Xinhua .

"They had realized that when they said they were Roma, either they didn't find a job or they lost the ones they had. What they want today is to be able to say they are Roma but also work," said Hyde.

According to an investigation by the European Commission, more than 60 percent of Roma of working age have in fact been subject to an act of work discrimination, and UNAR, an Italian organization with a mission to fight against discrimination, observed that in Italy 22 percent of cases of discrimination against the Roma are found in the media sector.

"We cannot influence the press," noted Hyde, "but we can show another reality to journalists."

The Commission seminar in Strasbourg aimed to alternate between both the analysis of negative stereotypes linked to the Roma community as well as direct encounters with Roma on the sites where they live.

Seminar participants were in this way able to visit a neighborhood constructed to rehouse several hundred Roma who lived previously, and probably for decades, in found shelters or caravans.

The seminar attendees were also able to observe the integration experience, as well as the educational and social support provided for families living in the heart of the city.

Seminars of the same type have already been held in Romania, Hungary and Bulgaria. Others are scheduled for Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Germany and Italy between April and July 2016.

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