Race is a feminist issue
Louise Livesey // 23 July 2008
This is the picture that has to give us pause for thought. It shows the towel covered dead bodies of two Roma girls, Cristina, aged 16, and Violetta, 14, whilst Italian crowds sunbathe around them.
As the Independent has said, it prompts us to rethink the treatment of Roma throughout Europe. But there is also a gender element – these are girl children and they are girl children from a minority group in the population.
Four girls apparently went into the water, two were rescued by private life-guards from a neighbouring beach. No-one on the beach closest appears to have done anything to help when the girls got into trouble in strong currents. Civil Liberties group, EveryOne has questioned whether the Roma girls would have voluntarily entered the water – initially they had gone down to the beach to hawk goods to the day-trippers.
A statement from the group said: “Two young Roma would never have left their scant merchandise for ‘a refreshing dip’ in the waves. Two Gypsy girls would never have gone bathing in full view of everyone because of the modesty that is one of their distinguishing characteristics.”
Not least because the drownings happened outside of Naples where a Roma encampment was recently burnt down to the ground and the inhabitants had to be evacuated (More at Buzzle). And because Italy’s president has recently imposed manditory fingerprinting for all Roma peoples, including children, and Roma children are routinely forced into “special” schools.
Al-Jezera were one of the first to report the incident, and the only to carry a quote from Violetta and Cristina’s family
A female relative of the girls, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “How could it be that no one helped? I hope God punishes you and I hope God curses you for the rest of your life.”
Edited to correct spelling. Thanks for the corrections lovely readers!