Friday, October 9, 2009


[Roma Daily News] Romania: Roma, between tradition and law

“The marriage is one of the characteristic elements of the Roma culture, tradition and way of life, and the subject of early marriages attracted international attention. Adapting to European legislation determined significant changes inside Roma communities, which try to adept their traditions to the modern law provisions.”

Roma/Gypsies have always considered children to be the true wealth of their culture. Early marriage not only kept the young women virginal till marriage, thereby assuring true bloodlines, but assured a great number of offspring. The number of children was also the greatest trump card in the Roma fight for survival. And these children are brought up to survive the harshness of Gypsy life. They receive much love, but from early on they are taught to contribute to their family means of survival. In the past they earned their living within traditional Gypsy trades, arts, and craftsmanship. Unfortunately modern life has eliminated the need for many of these traditional occupations. But as far back as Roma history is recorded in Europe, the rulers of the majority population have focused on attacking this greatest wealth of Roma culture, their children. Already under Maria Theresa of Austria children were taken from their Roma families and placed into Christian foster homes, Roma women were and to this day are sterilized against their will, and on and on. This has never met with ultimate success. The Roma family is a warm circle of life. It was and is the culture’s core strength.

Unfortunately on this more and more overcrowded planet, we all have to compromise, stick to laws that apply to all. I have no doubt that, once those Roma will be presented with the equal rights and the protections that go with those laws, to which they have a right as citizens of Europe, they will bend their laws to conform. Chaucer had a saying: The stick that bends doesn’t break. The Gypsies are masters at flexibility; it is how they have survived on their long trail of tears.

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