The Toybox

people for the conservation of limited amounts of indignation


Previous Entry Share Next Entry
in case anyone is following the story of maria, the roma child in greece
children of dune - leto 1
seperis
I honestly couldn't figure out how to title this because pretty much the entire thing is textbook appalling, and by the way, now international.

Woman in Bulgaria says girl found living with family in Greece may be hers - Maria, a blonde haired, green eyed Roma child living with her Roma family and community in Greece, was seen during a police raid on the Roma community and on visual inspection was found too blonde or something to be Roma as her parents were both dark. She was taken from her parents and a DNA test confirmed she was not genetically related, which as we all know is the only real way you can be a parent to a kidd. The woman in the report, Sasha Ruseva--who is also Roma--said she left the girl with the Roma family in Greece because she couldn't afford to care for her and they offered to adopt her.

I want to note here that this one freaked me out from the get-go and it gets worse pretty much daily, because it hit the twofer of racism and the fact that I'm a mother; I honestly can't imagine how I would have reacted to my kid taken away from me and put in a group home for reasons. I mean, it's one of those things where I see myself running after the car screaming in sheer horror while my kid cries in the back window. Sure, he's sixteen now, but in my head right now he's six, and at six, he wouldn't have understood anything except someone was taking him from his mom.

The early accusations were so textbook horrifying folklore shit about the Roma that I had heard them before and context, I live in Texas, which doesn't have (that I have ever met or know of in my area) Travellers or Roma. Though I think I heard them in Grimm's fairy tales, which actually required me to re-read because I kept thinking I was like, missing something, like sanity.

Further News

Sasha Ruseva is now under investigation--they're actually saying 'pressing preliminary charges'--for selling Maria to the child's parents, which I'm sure eventually they'll produce evidence or like, reasoning other than 'Roma' and 'poor'. In case this has any bearing, they haven't actually confirmed as of google five seconds ago that there's been DNA confirmation she's the mother. I guess getting a head start is good, in the event that this woman is 1.) the mother of Maria and 2.) sold her child, because I feel personally that it saves a lot of time if we get them charged with a crime before we even know if the subject of the theoretical crime is the right subject and if there was in fact a crime.

Christos Salis and Eleftheria Dimopoulou, Maria's parents who raised her, are still being charged for abduction, though, so--I guess this covers all the potential bases or something?



In case there is any doubt here about the racism involved, which I can't figure out why one would think so after reading more than article solemnly reporting--Jesus, like a real article by a person--about how Gypsies (term used in the article) steal white children to use for begging and a couple of them speculating about huge human trafficking rings involving pregnant Bulgarian and Greek women and their babies that I started tuning out of because at some point my brain shut down because I was still lost on how on earth you jump from 'parent at some point did tax fraud regarding kids she didn't have' (in case you're curious, not limited to Roma women or Europe; check the US history of income tax circa 80s. I'm gonna go out on a limb and be crazy and say that tax fraud is racially everybody and that extra kid thing enormously popular, especially when you're living poverty-level) to 'Roma community running slave rings because child was terrified and dirty' (newflash: clean children don't exist. Where the fuck do you get one of those? Terrified children do when they're pulled screaming from the only parents they know and their community by terrifying people in uniforms raiding your home. I wonder if there's a connection here.)

I'm taking this so badly, and I get on some level that if I were objective about this, it still wouldn't make any sense whatsoever, but I keep thinking about this. I have this horrible feeling this won't end with Maria returned to her parents and her community anytime soon, or possibly ever.

The thing is, in the US, the reaction to a parent/step-parent/guardian/person with a child when the child is white or light-skinned and the adult is African American or Hispanic with dark skin is striking similar in insta!suspicion, sometimes questioning, and on occasion harassment and arrest. While in the US the race in question is different, I'm not sure many people with mixed race families are reading this and not thinking how it's 2013 and this kind of shit doesn't happen anymore because it's getting better or something.



I'm sure this is completely unrelated:

Irish police return blonde girl to Roma family - in Ireland, a blonde Roma child was removed from her family home due to--not actually kidding--an anonymous facebook message--for a DNA test. Also in a different family--I bet you know where this is going, right?--a two year old blond Roma boy was removed from his family, and Dad actually pulled out a pic of his blond Romanian grandfather to try and prove how genetics from freshman biology sometimes work. In the former case, there was a history of harassment of the family--they had a CCTV outside their house to protect themselves and apparently suspicion was excited that they used in the home a name for their daughter that wasn't on her passport.

Further Information

Call for Irish ombudsman to investigate Roma family removals
Roma fear witch hunt

I really, desperately need the report that says Maria was returned to her parents who raised her or at least to her family members in her community and is not being held in a group home, like yesterday. I speak here as a mother; this is bothering me to the point I have an alert on this and google daily to see what's happening pretty much every time I have a computer around. Unless I missed something--and dude, I got the stealing babies trafficking pregnant women shit, so I couldn't have missed this one--there was no indication that her parents were abusing her and poverty isn't a goddamn crime and neither is the relationship between children and dirt, and it seriously blows my mind that this was actually like a point of argument.

Posted at Dreamwidth: http://seperis.dreamwidth.org/987034.html. | You can reply here or there. | comment count unavailable comments

  • 1
this sucks in so many ways, none of them the fun ways. fuck man, I'm half-Roma and I had silver hair until I turned 3 or 4 and it started to darken. that runs in my family. as a kid in the UK, particularly Scotland, me and my sis got called Pakis, thieving Gyppos, you name it -- and here in the US I pass for white, which still makes me laugh. I was 16 years old the first time someone assumed I was white. In Canada, where I did most of my growing up, nobody seemed to care how colour-mixed my family is.

but fuck, that was back in the very early 60s for Dog's sake! I'm with you, how the actual fuck is this STILL happening!! and yeah, I bet Maria ends up "in the system," you know, the ever-famous "for her own good."

AAARGH! *bangs head on wall cos it feels better*

Holy shit I am sorry.

but fuck, that was back in the very early 60s for Dog's sake! I'm with you, how the actual fuck is this STILL happening!! and yeah, I bet Maria ends up "in the system," you know, the ever-famous "for her own good."

Pretty much exactly what is happening. The system is--or should be--the place of serious abuse-level no other way last resort because short version, it sucks. It can't do anything but suck, because of what it's made to deal with.

AAARGH! *bangs head on wall cos it feels better*

*hugs you a lot* I'm so sorry for what happened to you. Honestly, I don't know what to say. It's 2013 and this is still actually happening to people.

was seen during a police raid on the Roma community and on visual inspection was found too blonde or something to be Roma as her parents were both dark.

From what read, the police started questioning the parents about the girl, and they told very different stories of how she came to live with them, which is why they took the child and did the genetic test. It wasn't because they were deemed "too dark" to have a child as blonde as her, even if that was the first thing that rose suspicion.

I agree with you on the racisim that is rampant all over Europe when it comes to Roma, but in this case there were several things that lead to all of this, and not all of them were racism.

What happened in Ireland on the other hand was very obviously racism and overzealousness in the light of Maria's case.

It was racism that led them to believe that dark parents couldn't have a blonde child and questioned the parents in the first place. Unless they went to every other kid in the camp--the ones with dark hair--and tracked their parents down for resemblance purposes because trafficking, then the first principle here was racism--a blonde child to dark parents, therefore wtf. Rather than recessive genetics.

Among people of Middle Eastern descent, tow-headed children whose hair darkens as they age is common. You see it from Western China to Eastern Europe.

Dude, hilariously it happens in white and in Hispanic households I grew up around. Both my sisters were blonde--and I mean golden-blonde--until their twenties and still in the very dark blonde/light brown family. I was blonde until I think three years old and my son was until elementary school. Both my parents had very dark hair by their twenties when they had us, I have very dark brown hair, my kid's biological father had very dark brown hair.

I mean, it's racism plus deliberately ignoring freshman genetics and looking around you at a crowd on any given day for the sake of racism. I guess because only light-skinned people can have random genetic fluctuations or something?

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-24673804

So it appears that as usual, it's political correctness at its worst: intervening in people's privates lives based on racial prejudices - since the real mother is a Roma as well and confirms that this was not kidnapping. Nice.

The fact that the adoption was unofficial is no justification for charging anyone of anything.

I really like the bottom line of the story, though: apparently being blonde gives a kid more value? I thought it was the Nazi who were Aryan-mad? Clearly WWII was fought in vain...

In adoption ads Black babies routinely go for $10K less than White babies, especially Black boy babies.

Aaargh!

And people wonder why I think having children is a bad, bad idea.

And I love it even more when next they ask 'but why not adopt, then?' I should point them towards your reply...

The fact that the adoption was unofficial is no justification for charging anyone of anything.

God, so much this. Acting like it's not common--everywhere--for families to leave their children, for whatever reason, with others to care for them when they can't is ridiculous. It's pretty much the only way to do it with any guarantee your kid is okay and you won't lose them, and in extended families is so common I don't even think anyone thinks about it as other than part of living.

My sister during her teens was having serious problems at school that involved her peer group, and my parents sent her to live with my grandparents for a while in hopes a new environment and new school would be beneficial. Heck, I lived with my grandmother and stayed with my cousins a lot when my mom was hospitalized for mental illness for a short time and my dad was working full time still, and for obvious reasons, his own state of mind meant he knew he needed help with us.

In this case, from what I've been reading, the Roma community acts as an extended family for children. She wasn't dropped on the side of the road or given to random strangers; this was someone the woman knew, of her community and her culture, who wanted the little girl when the mother was unable to care for her. Jesus, if only all kids were so lucky to know that both their sets of parents loved them that much.

I say this with the understanding of what social services deals with and the assumption of good intentions on their part, but going to them for help is almost a guarantee you will lose your kids, and in the specific case of minorities, the high likelihood your child will also lose their community, heritage, traditions, etc and be given to another family. It's a goddamn version of bootstrap argument yet again; if you need help, temporarily or not, you don't deserve your kids.

Reading between the lines, it sounds like actually this may just be a storm in a teacup started by and profiting mainly this 'Smile for a Child' organization.

The media and official social services should seriously investigate that place which seems to be using Maria as a PR prop, instead of venting their repressed prejudices and apparently going for the stupidest headlines.

You do not know that. The police could not be releasing every information that lead to the suspicion, the press could not be reporting everything that happened. They have a tendency to do that. In any case, you cannot call something racist, without knowing all the facts.

Also, you make it out as if this couple is absolutely innocent and is just being harrassed by racist police. They are collecting money for 14 children, of which not even half was actually living with them. Do they exist? If yes, where are they and where did they come from, because the wife could not have given birth to them all. At the best, they commited fraud, at the worst there has been child trafficking.
Whatever it is, the police needs to get to the bottom of it and find out. They can't just give Maria back and ignore the whole problem.

There's a LOT of racism involved, but Roma kids are more vulnerable to trafficking because of the racism and marginalisation of their families leading to poverty, frequent moving/homelessness, unclear legal status, etc, so the investigation isn't necessarily wrong, although the media seems to be spinning this as only the blond child, and not the other six children whose birth stories and dates are also conflicting.

We get more trafficking in ethnic-Vietnamese families in Cambodia, and the reverse happens across the border for ethnic-Khmer families in Vietnam - racism, social and economic marginalisation and legal issues, and on both sides idiots claim it's because of their race/culture. But it would be wrong to also ignore race as a factor in identifying high-risk groups, an identifier, not a cause.

Roma issues are such a lightning rod for race and class issues across Europe. They are the new scapegoats for every social ill, and it is terrifying to read some of the awful stuff written about them, especially about their children. There are some great roma activists groups growing though! A big challenge because they cross so many countries and have a well-learned reluctance to engage with any official organisations.

There's a LOT of racism involved, but Roma kids are more vulnerable to trafficking because of the racism and marginalisation of their families leading to poverty, frequent moving/homelessness, unclear legal status, etc, so the investigation isn't necessarily wrong, although the media seems to be spinning this as only the blond child, and not the other six children whose birth stories and dates are also conflicting.

I get what you're saying--it's not easy to get an actual full story of the case and at this point is a matter of reading lots of articles to get different parts of the story--but it's poisoned fruit. The first principle in this was seeing Maria during a raid on her community--and at this point it is really hard not to see that as random harassment under the guise of law enforcement--and assuming she wasn't Roma because she was blonde and green eyed, hence stolen, hence trafficking, hence abduction, hence selling babies, hence--even if it had been any of that in this case, the foundation of it was rotted; everything came from looking at a little girl and thinking she couldn't be Roma (must be a stolen white child) because Roma aren't white in this case, and they don't have blonde kids, so they stole a white kid.

That the other stuff came out--and it's not that I discount tax and welfare fraud, but my experiences have biased me heavily when it comes to how I weigh that as a crime and not simply another way to create a catch-22 for people in poverty and in minorities--is almost immaterial.

It's--there was this quote I read in a book about the medieval Welsh and their relationship with their English overlords; the dog we would hang is said to devour sheep. It stuck in my head--obviously--for how much it packed in there about already being guilty of a crime by virtue of being assumed to have committed it. Famous for being famous, I guess.

I know you're not arguing contrary to that; I just was trying to work out why this in particular could be so blatantly racist and still be almost hidden in plain sight.

I work in a news-adjacent industry and I started cringing from the first mention of this story.

like, to add to all the things you so astutely point out, we also have:

- creepycreepycreepy little-blonde-girl fetishism (they started calling her "angel" within like two minutes of deciding this was A Thing, I swear, and the endless big-green-eyes close-ups, I just, I can't)
- complete and utter disregard for missing dark-haired children
- not even trying to avoid getting up the hopes of every single family in Europe that's lost a blonde kid

like, seriously, the main fucking segue I've been seeing is the connection to Madeleine McCann, the British kid who went missing in Portugal five years back (this peaked before Ruseva came forward, obviously). As in, some fucking vulture stuck a microphone in the McCanns' faces and asked if this gives them hope.

- creepycreepycreepy little-blonde-girl fetishism (they started calling her "angel" within like two minutes of deciding this was A Thing, I swear, and the endless big-green-eyes close-ups, I just, I can't)

Holy shit that was creepy skin-crawling to read.

- complete and utter disregard for missing dark-haired children

Yeah, weird how only that one kid was an abduction risk. I assume that only white children are worth abducting or rescuing or something?

- not even trying to avoid getting up the hopes of every single family in Europe that's lost a blonde kid

What actually terrifies me on this one--that Interpol thing--is that generally becoming an international joke isn't on most country's agenda. They were that sure that this kid was totally obviously a Roma stealing white kids thing that it like, didn't even register that they looked utterly insane before the girl was found, surprise, to be Roma. Honest to God, reading the first stories--the first ones--was dazing, because for the life of me I couldnt' figure out how in like, twenty four hours they already had jumped to human trafficking and just--seriously, I thought I'd missed some kind of huge arrest of a trafficking ring or something that had happened a few hours earlier.


like, seriously, the main fucking segue I've been seeing is the connection to Madeleine McCann, the British kid who went missing in Portugal five years back (this peaked before Ruseva came forward, obviously). As in, some fucking vulture stuck a microphone in the McCanns' faces and asked if this gives them hope.


That is revolting on so many different levels of revolting I don't even know where to start.

Looks like the DNA test confirmed that they are her parents according to @AFP. I can't find anything other than the tweet with the information yet.

Sorry - it looks like the headline was misleading - the Bulgarian woman and her husband are the parents of the little girl. This report says that she has been arrested in the past for trying to sell other children in Greece.

It doesn't say where the little girl currently is.

Sorry for the confusion.

http://tinyurl.com/kq8ep8v

Edited at 2013-10-25 02:39 pm (UTC)

This is extremely difficult for me to read as I've just started blogging separately about my own adoption issues over here Whose Face Stares Out My Mirror

Yesterday I found this superb lecture by a psychotherapist about the neurological and psychological damage caused to children by taking them away from their parents, even if you do it at birth.

(As a bonus, the counselor looks and sounds like Matt Smith's uncle.)



Summary: adoptees experience what they subconsciously interpret as a life-threatening experience by removing them from their birthmother and birth environment. Consequently they present at therapy with 10 times the rate of addictions as the general population, 90% of them have ADHD, almost all of them have (albeit often well-hidden) depression and PTSD and in the case of those taken at birth, none of them have a pre-trauma personality to return to because the trauma happened at such a young age so you can't help them "recover their equilibrium" because they never had any in the first place.

My conclusion (which the counselor doesn't come out and say but might as well): Anyone in the 21st Century who suggests removing children from their home for anything short of criminal behavior should be sued. We may not have known better before, but we sure as Hell do now.


I admit what confuses me is why the police think a mother would sell her blond, pretty child to a Roma family that doesn't have much money. If a family wanted to sell a child wouldn't they pick a wealthy or relatively wealthy American or British couple who wanted a child? I mean yes, when I was a kid the ridiculous thinking was that a kid was stolen by Gypsies Roma. But I haven't heard that slur in 50 years and even when I did hear it, I thought it was stupid and something that didn't happen. This case is really disturbing and shows how deeply ingrained racial prejudice is.

It's perfectly legal for relatively wealthy couples to buy babies. It called the adoption industry, and generates $10 billion dollars/year.

I mean yes, when I was a kid the ridiculous thinking was that a kid was stolen by Gypsies Roma.

Before college--and I know this sounds insane--I was convinced that people were using the word 'gypsy' in place of random fairy tale villain or something because fortune teller wearing scarves in the media = fairy, so different kind of racism. It was way later that I found out this was something that people actually historically believed and still did of people who were real living people and not fairies in Ye Old Days.

In retrospect it sounds stupid, but it took a couple of tries to even wrap my mind around this in concept because it didn't make sense. (Keeping in mind this was before widespread internet and I had very vague Disney-influenced knowledge of gypsies or Romas.)

My understanding is that the reason behind all of those 'gypsies kidnapping children' stories is related to the fact that gypsies used to be associated with circuses. Roaming circuses, that is, not the Cirque du Soleil modern type. Most old-fashioned circuses were run and comprised of gypsies and everyone who joined and traveled with them was often absorbed into their culture. By its very nature, the Roma culture seems to have always welcomed new blood - probably because it's also always bleeding out members who leave to join organized society.

Couple this with kids running away to join the circus? Used to happen all the time when there were lots of traveling circuses... And there you have it: a valid, logical explanation for this long-standing prejudice.

As an aside, one should remember that to an unhappy or abused kid, joining the circus may seem like an acceptable alternative to remaining in their own family. I am not saying that you would necessarily be raised in comfort and that your life would be a bed of roses, but it may seem preferable than whatever abuse you were suffering. Or feel you were suffering, depending: kids tend to over-dramatize and exaggerate minor childhood problems.

The point is that it used to happen for centuries in Europe until traditional circuses -where children could immediately be put to use for much-needed revenue as performance artists- disappeared.

Unfortunately, teaching circus tricks may very well have been replaced by teaching pick-pocketing. This creates major problems, in Italy for instance, where large gangs of gypsy kids will harass tourists and get their valuable with remarkable skills.

But to be clear: the above is just a bit of historical background for non Europeans who are wondering why the long-standing discrimination and where the constant suspicion of child stealing comes from.

Not a justification for racial profiling.

[edited for typo]

Edited at 2013-10-25 11:45 pm (UTC)

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/oct/25/pale-roma-baby-blond-maria

Regardless of the truth of the cases under discussion, this IS indeed racial profiling.

It's not even that they're trying to hide it, it's that they think it's normal.

  • 1
?

Log in