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Claim of Roma women from Bulgaria

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Ms. Ts. Tsacheva – Chair of Bulgarian Parliament Mr. G. Parvanov - President of the Republic of Bulgaria Mr. B. Borisov - Prime Minister of Bulgaria Mr. G. Ganev - Ombudsman of the Republic of Bulgaria Mr. Ts. Tsvetanov - Minister of Interior Mr. T. Mladenov - Minister of MLSP Ms. Nadya Shabani - Chairman of the SACP; Cc: Bulgarian Media DECLARATION from Civic associations, women and mothers, members of the Mother centre’s network from Bulgaria, responsible citizens interested in the welfare of all Bulgarian children Ladies and Gentlemen, This declaration expresses: Firstly, our deep concern about Roma girls whose childhood has been robbed before the unconcerned eyes of society and the institutions responsible for protection of Bulgarian children; Secondly, our commitment as responsible citizens to do what our conscience requires us and the Law for Child Protection, namely its art. 7, paragraph 1, which an obligation has been placed on the cooperation of every person: "Who becomes known to that a child needs protection then he/she is obligated immediately to notify the Social Assistance Directorate, State Agency for Child Protection or the Ministry of Interior. » The reason for this declaration is a particular case: An 11-year old Roma girl from the town of Sliven gave birth a child and the responsible institutions have dealt perfunctorily with the case as, in fact, they always deal with all other cases when under age Roma girls are forced to create families before completion of their physical, mental and social development. Our observations suggest that the early "marriages" of under age Roma girls have been increasing in the Roma neighbourhoods recently. Unfortunately, this phenomenon occurs even in the families that can ensure children having normal living conditions. Despite many of the minor Roma girls have good opportunities to complete their primary education, which is compulsory in Bulgaria they actually often are provoked to sacrifice their childhood entering into an illegal early marriage. What could be the consequences from such early marriages are well known to everyone: children give birth to children who in most cases are doomed to live in ghettos, poverty, misery, starvation! It is absolutely wrong to inculcate in the society that these practices are the result of Roma culture and traditions. We completely responsibly declare this is not a cultural characteristic of Roma community, nor a tradition one! The traditions enrich both the ethnics and nations and they are not prerequisites for physical, mental, intellectual and material plundering of the individuals and societies as whole. No a single community “tradition” should be a heavy burden for the society, neither to be over the state legislation. As regards to the culture, it should develop our values and moral virtues and successfully to counteract the further intellectual degradation of the societies. The vicious practice for marriage of Roma girls in the infant age is not anything else except a theft: theft of Roma children’s childhood and moral values of Roma community! Dear Ladies and Gentlemen, We would like this madness of early marriages in Roma community to stop being justified with pseudo-traditions and pseudo-culture! Every child has the right to live through his/her childhood and no a single community “tradition” should hinder that! We would like the Law for Child Protection to provide really protection for every child, no matter of his/her ethnic origin! We appeal you, within your mandates, to take immediate measures to ensure the institutions responsible for child protection at the local level to perform their duties in the most responsible and effective manner. They should not reinforce the bad practices of early marriages of Roma children, claiming that this is a “community tradition” and they can not intervene. This is not just abdication of professional obligations, but refusing to execute the law. Our call is any person, no matter whether he/she is parent, relative and other violator, who irresponsibly brings a child at a risk and violates the children rights, to be brought to account according the STATE LEGISLATION! It is time the laws to be applied no selectively in our country and to provide security and protection for every citizen of the country! This is the most reliable way for social inclusion of any individual and group. With Respect: Network of Mother Centres of Bulgaria


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