Statement by Margareta Matache
To the Committee On The Elimination Of Discrimination Against Women on the occasion of submission of the Sixth Periodic Report Of Romania
Madame Chair, distinguished Members of the Committee,
It is a privilege for me and for the organizations I represent, Romani CRISS and European Roma Rights Centre, to address the Committee and to express our concerns regarding the situation of Roma women in Romania .
My presentation here today will focus on 3 main critical concerns:
In Romania we have documented cases where the Roma women have fallen victims of violent behavior by representatives of local institutions, mainly the police and Special Forces, and in most of the episodes concerned, no adequate remedies were provided to the victims.
One of the most recent cases happened right in Bucharest , when the municipality and community police not only demolished and evacuated Roma families at -15 degrees (Celsius), but also verbally abused and threatened the women. Many other similar cases are included in our shadow report and it appears that this practice is a pattern of the police behavior in Roma communities.
1) We ask the Committee to urge the Government to undertake effective actions to address all forms of violence against Roma women and to ensure that the per petrators, including police representatives are effectively prosecuted and punished.
2) We also ask the Committee to urge the Government to implement the policies and laws regarding women and minorities at the local level.
Although measures have been taken by the State in relation to Roma women and access to health (I am referring to the health mediation system), Roma women still suffer exclusion from public health-care services due to inequitable geographic distribution of health–care units and, most critical, due to the discrimination on ethnic criteria.
We are mostly concerned with the discrimination faced by Romani women in relation to the medical per sonnel. Our organisation’s reports and work in the field have shown that there were strong concerns about the cases of Romani women hospitalized in “special” rooms, especially in the case of maternities. Besides that, the medical and extra-medical services (hygienic services, changing of sheets, etc) are not appropriate, according to patients’ declarations (our shadow report includes more detailed information).
1) We believe it is important that the Romanian Government and its relevant institutions design not only programs, training courses (that are usually developed in partnership with NGOs) but diversity and human rights courses within the curricula for medical personnel in order to decrease the level of discrimination and other specific behaviors towards Roma or other minority women patients.
2) We ask the Committee to urge the Government to undertake effective actions to address all forms of discrimination against Roma women in accessing health services and to ensure that the promoters of such practices are effectively prosecuted.
UNDP study “Faces of Poverty, faces of Hope” shows that 35% of Roma women aged 25-54 are unemployed, a percentage four times higher than in the majority population. These differences are the result of low level of education, lack or poor professional training, but also discrimination of the employers.
We appreciate current Government efforts to address this issue, but not enough is being done. It is a fact that 65% of the National Agency for Roma’s employees are women (approximately 30 persons).It is also a fact that approximately 350 Roma health mediators are contracted though the Ministry of Health agencies to work at local level. Different policies were developed in order to increase the level of employability of Roma, including Roma women.
All these policies and actions do not reach the Roma women in the communities (exception of the health mediators) who are still discriminated against when apply for a job and who still have less opportunities.
1) In order to ensure substantive equality of the Roma women, the Romanian Government should allocate funds specially targeting the Roma women in order to access micro credits, vocational trainings.
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