Praxis Watch

Tuesday, 3 April 2018

Praxis Participated at the Sitting of the Committee on Human and Minority Rights and Gender Equality "The Right to Choose a Partner and Drawing Attention to Child Marriage in the Roma Population“

The sitting was co-organized with the Roma Women’s Centre “Bibija” as part of the campaign Month of Roma Women’s Activism.

Opening the sitting, the Chairman of the Committee on Human and Minority Rights and Gender Equality Meho Omerovic said that the Roma population faces a slew of problems some of which are especially difficult because they hit the most vulnerable among the population – children. Early marriages among children are a violation of some of the most basic human rights such as the right to education, protection of reproductive health, selection of partners and above all the right to a childhood, said Omerovic and stressed that this problem should be at the very top of our priorities and the state of Serbia needs to define measures and activities to suppress child marriages.

UNICEF Deputy Representative Severine Leonardi said that 23 girls below the age of 18 get married every minute in the world. In Serbia, this mainly happens in rural and the poorest communities, generally among the Roma population, said Leonardi stressing that over 50% of Roma girls get married before the age of majority. Change can be initiated through cooperation between the Government and NGOs, private sector and the Roma community and it is very important to empower every Roma girl and offer support to every family through the social welfare system, Severine Leonardi concluded.

Jelena Jovanovic, Deputy President of the National Council of the Roma National Minority, said that Roma women are the most vulnerable and sensitive group of women in our society and their education and schooling is the course to follow to open up their prospects for a dignified life, education and health protection.

Coordinator of Roma Women’s Centre “Bibija” Slavica Vasic presented her organization’s activities and campaigns. She stressed that hands-on work with Roma women in the field is of paramount importance.

The representative of the Roma Women Network Radmila Nesic and member of SASA Institute of Ethnography Dr Ivan Djordjevic presented the results of research “Child marriages in the Roma population in Serbia”, conducted March - June 2017 in 5 locations in Serbia, where in depth interviews provided an insight into the real life of the Roma community. The research showed that reducing and finally eradicating child marriages has to be a joint task, enterprise and effort undertaken by all the social factors - social work services, education system, the population, and even individuals.

In the course of the debate the participants agreed that child marriages are a dangerous phenomenon and that education, as the key to the empowerment and protection of Roma children’s rights, is vital for the prevention of child marriages.

Praxis presented its activities focused on prevention and elimination of child, early and forced marriages and pointed at the presence of discriminatory acting on all levels. Praxis also highlighted the necessity to raise awareness of all relevant actors - parents, children, professionals and wider public, with an active role of media as drivers of change.

For more information, see the announcement here.

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Praxis means action
Praxis means action
Praxis means action
Praxis means action