Roma in Europe face prejudice, exclusion, hate crimes

The Roma in Europe are increasingly subject to racism, social exclusion, trafficking, and violence, in spite of efforts by European Union institutions to uphold Roma human rights, according to a new article by researchers at Harvard School of Public Health’s FXB Center for Health and Human Rights.

Europe’s Roma population “constitutes the poorest, most stigmatized, and excluded population within the EU,” wrote Jacqueline Bhabha, FXB director of research and professor of the practice of public health and human rights, and Margareta Matache, FXB instructor, in an August 2, 2014 article on the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs website. As an example, they cited the June 2014 kidnapping and vicious beating in Paris of a Roma teen, who nearly died.

Such brutal incidents are not unusual, the authors wrote. Against a backdrop of financially unstable times when xenophobic views are on the rise, there has been an uptick in negative public sentiment about the Roma, in openly racist anti-Roma statements made by politicians, and in moves to keep the Roma in segregated communities and schools. Such anti-Roma sentiment has emerged time and again throughout the long history of Roma life in Europe, the authors wrote. During the Holocaust, between 220,000 and 1.5 million of Europe’s Roma were killed.

While there are pockets of support for the Roma, as well as efforts to include them more fully in European society, more must be done to educate policy makers and politicians about the complexity of the Roma plight and to institute stronger anti-discrimination policies, wrote Bhabha and Matache. They called for an “upright, resolute, and independent movement” led by progressive Europeans and Roma leaders to ensure Roma human rights.

Read the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs article: Modern Europe’s Roma: Still Denied Social Justice

Learn more

Report: Growing Patterns of Violence Against Roma in Hungary Sound Alarms (FXB Center for Health and Human Rights)