European Parliament Resolution on Romani Women ERRC Welcomes Detailed Policy Document on Gendered Aspects of Roma Rights
The European Parliament today made public the text of its “resolution on the situation of Roma women in the European Union”, adopted last week at plenary. The ERRC welcomes the resolution, as importantly bringing attention to a number of key human rights policy areas of particular relevance to Romani women.
On the occasion of the adoption of the resolution, ERRC Executive Director Dimitrina Petrova said: “This resolution includes a number of issues requiring the attention of policy- and lawmakers as matters of the highest priority, including the need to adopt school desegregation laws, as well as the requirement to provide comprehensive redress for women who have been coercively sterilised.”
The resolution notes that “Romani women constitute among the most threatened groups and individuals in the Member States and accession and candidate countries”, and that, “as a result of patriarchal traditions, many women - including Romani women and girls - do not enjoy full respect for their freedom of choice in matters concerning the most fundamental decisions of their lives, and are thus thwarted in their ability to exercise their fundamental human rights”.
The resolution further observes that “European policy- and law-makers have not yet succeeded in securing full and effective equality for Romani women, and their equal inclusion, with full dignity, in the societies of Europe” as well as noting that “Romani women face extreme levels of discrimination, including multiple or compound discrimination”.
Elaborating on particular issues, the resolution notes that “Romani women have, in recent years, been victims of extreme human rights abuses in Europe and in particular of attacks on their physical integrity, including coercive sterilisation” and that “although some Member States have provided redress for such abuse, others have yet to do so”.
The resolution also observes that “Romani women are frequently among victims of trafficking in Europe”.
The resolution comments on the situation of Romani women in several sectoral fields, including education, employment, housing and health care:
Concerning education, the resolution notes that “the gap in the level of education between non-Romani women and Romani women is unacceptably large” and “very many Romani girls fail to complete primary education”. It continues to decry “racial segregation in schools and biased attitudes among teachers and administrators”.
Concerning work and employment matters, the resolution observes that “the unemployment rate among adult Romani women is, in many places, many times higher than that of the rest of the adult female population”.
In the field of housing, the resolution expresses concern that “a significant proportion of Romani women throughout Europe currently live in housing that is a threat to their health” as well as that “in many places Romani women live under constant threat of forced eviction”.
On health care matters, the resolution states, “there is ample documentation indicating that Romani women are particularly excluded from health care and often only have access to health care in the case of an extreme emergency and/or childbirth”.
On the basis of these observations, the resolution provides a number of recommendations to various law- and policy-makers, including the following:
Urges public authorities throughout the Union to promptly investigate allegations of extreme human rights abuses against Romani women, swiftly punish perpetrators and provide adequate compensation to victims and, as such, urges the Member States to regard, as among their highest priorities, measures intended to provide better protection for women’s reproductive and sexual health, prevent and outlaw coercive sterilisation and promote family planning, alternative arrangements for those who get married early and sex education, and to take proactive measures to eliminate racially segregated maternity wards, ensure that programmes are developed to provide services to Romani victims of domestic violence and exercise particular vigilance with respect to the trafficking of Romani women, and urges the Commission to support governmental and civil society initiatives designed to tackle these problems while securing the fundamental human rights of the victims;
Urges the Member States to adopt minimum standards within the framework of the open method of coordination with the aim of taking a range of measures to ensure that women and girls have access on equal terms to quality education for all, including: adopting positive laws requiring school desegregation and setting out the specifics of plans to end the separate, substandard education of Romani children;
Urges the Member States to improve Romani housing by providing recognition under domestic law of a right to adequate housing, remedying the current dearth of protection available to individuals under domestic law against forced eviction, adopting in consultation with representatives of affected communities comprehensive plans for financing the improvement of living and housing conditions in districts which have a sizeable Romani population and ordering local authorities to promptly provide adequate potable water, electricity, waste removal, public transport and roads;
Demands adequate relocation to safer housing especially for Romani women refugees in the highly lead-contaminated land of the Mitrovica region of Kosovo; draws attention to the temporary and newly renovated location of the French KFOR Camp Osterode, which is provided as an interim solution; calls on the Council, the Commission and the Member States to provide sufficient financial resources for a relocation to the place of origin; emphasises the need to enforce human rights while continuing the Stabilisation and Association Process;
Urges the Member States to ensure that all Romani women have access to primary, emergency and preventive health care, to develop and implement policies to ensure that even the most excluded communities have full access to the health care system, and the introduction of anti-bias training for health-care workers;
Urges governments to ensure that equal treatment and equal opportunities are an integral part of employment and social-inclusion policies, to tackle the very high unemployment rates among Romani women, and in particular to address the serious barriers posed by direct discrimination in hiring procedures;
Recommends that the Commission launch legal proceedings and ultimately levy dissuasive fines against any Member States that have not yet transposed the anti-discrimination Directives into domestic law and/or fully implemented them in practice as regards Romani women, and that it monitor the enforcement of any judgments passed by the Court of Justice of the European Communities in cases of inadequate compliance;
Urges the EU institutions to take as a key criterion for evaluating states of readiness for accession to the European Union the situation of Romani women in candidate countries, including the situation of Romani women in those candidate countries not traditionally or readily associated with Roma issues;
Urges the Union institutions to take the lead in encouraging governments to collect and publish data disaggregated by sex and ethnicity on the situation of Romani men and women, in order to measure progress in education, housing, employment, health care and other sectors; considers that the EU should urge governments to raise awareness in state administrations and among the general public of the fact that ethnic data can be gathered without threatening individual identification, and should encourage governments to use any existing, safe and innovative methodologies;
Calls urgently for close consultation of Romani women in the drawing up of any programme and any project undertaken by EU institutions and/or by the Member States which may affect them, and for positive action to be taken for their benefit;
The full text of the resolution is available by contacting ERRC Women’s Rights Officer Ostalinda Maya Ovalle: email@example.com.
Full text of the EP Resolution on http://www.europarl.europa.eu/omk/sipade3?PUBREF=-//EP//TEXT+TA+P6-TA-2006-0244+0+DOC+XML+V0//EN&L=EN&LEVEL=1&NAV=S&LSTDOC=Y&LSTDOC=N