Amalipe Center conducted a survey among Roma women on their awareness of domestic violence – what did we learn?
In November 2020, the Amalipe Center conducted a survey among 40 Roma women on domestic violence. This was done in the implementation of the PATTERN project (Prevent And combaT domesTic violEnce against Roma womeN).
What did we learn?
The perception of Roma women as domestic violence is closely linked to the perception of gender in the Roma community. At the same time, this is not a unique concept, but a whole set of concepts, depending on various factors, such as group affiliation, level of modernization, etc.
One of the most serious factors influencing the change of gender perceptions is the level of modernization and the frequency of contacts with the macro-society. In this sense, the concepts in the different Roma groups are different, as the level of integration is also different. For example, in the group of Miners, women’s emancipation is stronger than in other groups. In the group of more traditional and closed communities, emancipation is very low, as in the group of Kaldarashi and Burgudjii.
In the Roma community, control over women is particularly strong because women are perceived to pass on the identity, values and norms of the group to younger generations.
The perception of gender in the Roma family is subordinated to the patriarchal understanding of human leadership. No matter what group he is from, the family still accepts the boy as a person who carries the family potential. It is no coincidence that having a boy is very important in the Kaldarashi family. There are many cases of adoption of boys from families in which there are only girls, due to the constant tradition that “the boy takes care of the parents.” In the Kaldarashi tradition, the youngest boy who will take care of the parents stays in the parents’ house. As noted above, this is not a concept limited to the Kaldarashi community. A similar belief was shared in interviews with much more modernized women from Rudari; they have characteristics closer to the macro-society and have more developed processes of women’s emancipation.
As in other communities with a preserved patriarchal structure, the honor of men and the family does not depend on men’s achievements in the economic, political or cultural spheres, but on the behavior of women. That is why the “good woman” is expected to be a virgin until her wedding; to marry early for a boy from her group; to give birth quickly to a son and possibly more children; to be faithful to her husband; to maintain an exemplary household; to organize the work of daughters-in-law and daughters; to care for men, children, the elderly and the sick.
The existing perceptions of the position and role of women in the various Roma groups largely determine the difference in socialization between boys and girls, respectively between men and women in the family. While men have more intense contacts with institutions and the macro society in general, they are more adaptable and open to change, even if they are not aware of it. On the other hand, women who have less contact outside the family and community often want change, but do not know what change and how to achieve it. Discrimination from the outside society and institution also adds to the problem: if a Roma woman decides to complain to the police about her husband’s systematic beatings, she risks being rejected by everyone else for her “treacherous behavior” and so on.
We can classify perceptions of violence into several categories:
- “Causing physical and mental harm to a person”, which emphasizes the effects of domestic violence on the victim;
- “Beatings, threats, coercion, rape” – specific, most common and recognizable acts of violence, as well as the behavior of the perpetrators;
- Satisfying the man’s “desire for power and control”, such as the destructive need that gives rise to domestic violence;
- And last but not least, a category that combines all the above categories, ie. “Causing physical and mental harm to a person”, “beatings, threats, coercion, rape”, “persecution of power and control”.
More about the study can be found HERE