The Romani or Roma-Sinti people’s origin can be traced back to undivided India, which included parts of Pakistan  and North India. They constitute one of the largest minority groups with around 14 million people.

It is assumed that the migration of Roma people from India to Europe was most likely triggered by Turkey’s conquest of North Indian regions like Punjab, Sindh and Rajas in the 11th century. It is suggested that while some Roma managed to flee, others were brought to Europe as slaves. The Roma migrated to Europe via Persia, Armenia and Asia Minor between the 11th and 14th century .

Being from the North-west part of the Indian subcontinent, Europeans call them gypsies because of their mobile lifestyle. Specific anti-Roma racism is termed ‘anti- ziganism’, or ‘anti-gypsyism’. They have historically been one of the most vulnerable and poorest people who have faced centuries of discrimination in Europe. People from this community experience high levels of poverty, illiteracy and unemployment, particularly because of the discrimination faced by them in access to education, employment, housing and health facilities.

Roma children are educated in ‘special’ schools meant for disabled students. There are also widespread incidences of violence against this community. In several European states, Roma people are victims of “ghettoisation”, a system wherein the people from this community are made to live in specific parts of towns, away from rest of the population.

They follow a strict system of residential segregation. Governments are antagonistic towards this system of ghettoization towards the Roma community, and deny their responsibility. For instance, Bulgarian authorities consider “the  gravest problem to which Bulgarian Roma are confronted” (according to the Council of Europe) is a “heritage of the past” and not “a deliberate governmental policy.”

In certain European states, Roma people are targets of state-sponsored violence. For instance, Roman women as well as men are sterilised in several countries from the beginning of the 20th century. Though, such cases continue to exist even today. In Bulgaria, an informal initiative in January 2012 called for a law that put in place forced sterilisation of Roma people at birth.

State actions of violent evictions, destruction of goods, denial of liberty, and racist attitudes, forced sterilisation and segregation in public spaces are against the Charter of Fundamental Rights and the Treaty on the European Union.

Courtesy Rights Expert Europe


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