Roma Children becoming victims of discrimination in Slovakia

Romani Children Image: Wikimedia Commons

By Shubhi Mangla

Romani people originally belong to northern India but now are living in all continents mostly Europe, North Africa and North America. They are called ‘gypsies’ as they have migrated throughout the world. The Roma community makes up about 8% of Slovakia’s population. Being a minority community, they face lot of discrimination. Racial tensions continue to make their lives difficult.

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In the Ostrava town in eastern Slovakia where the Roma people reside; there is extreme poverty, life expectancy is below average and unemployment being 80% has made their lives worse. But besides all that, there is extensive racism and discrimination. Not just adults, but even the children are targeted. Walls have been built to separate the Roma kids to mingle with the white kids and to stop steal fruits from their neighbor’s gardens.

Also Read: The Forgotten Holocaust: A brief history of the Roma

Even in schools, there is a sense of separateness. There are separate classroom and buildings for the Roma and white children. In 2004, a strong anti-discrimination law was passed in Slovakia but however there is reluctance to obey this law. The Education minister of Slovakia says that officials are working to eliminate discriminatory practices from schools. In 2013, schools were forced to conduct integrated classes for both Roma and white children but resistance still prevails among the people. A number of schools had pressure from the normal parents who don’t want their children to be together with Roma children.

However, there are some schools that provide a positive model and have same classrooms for children.There is an opening of a new preschool for children so that social inclusion can be embedded from an early age. These schools provide a ray of hope for putting an end to segregation of Roma people in Slovakia.

Shubhi Mangla is an intern at Newsgram and a student of Journalism and Mass Communication in New Delhi. Twitter @shubhi_mangla