ROMANI (Eastern and Central Europe)



Index EuropeRomania / Poland / Czech Republic Romani

“[…] from puberty to menopause, women are considered ‘impure’ as the fact that they menstruate or bear children is considered marim […]With the onset of menstruation at puberty, a girl’s clothing cannot be washed with men’s, boys’, or premenstrual girls’ clothing’ […] Until puberty children have a privileged status, after that they are subjected to marime taboos which are determined according to the gender of the child […] It has also been reported that the reason why women do not send their daughters to school is because they fear that they will get sex education and learn about ‘bad things’: Ivan Ivanov writes on the subject that ‘In order to control female sexuality education for girls is limited, and soon after the onset of puberty, often Romani girls are married to prevent sexual experimentation’. Sylwia Ingmire confirmed that many teenage Romani girls were given the opportunity to learn about sexual issues for the first time in the UK[1][2]..


‘A Romani […] faces difficulties from early childhood. For the greater part of the Romani community, the honour of the family is the most important thing, and the chastity and the purity of women is central to that honour. Public opinion is a very important part of the life of Roma. To maintain a good public image, Romani parents exercise strict control over the girls of the family from an early age’[3].


“Early marriage is still widespread amongst some Romani communities. In Romania for instance, the International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights (IHFHR) notes: ‘The cultural tradition of marrying young girls when they are 13 or 14-years-old is quite spread all over the country, in various Roma communities, regardless of how different they are[4].  Sabina Xhemajli stresses that Romani girls are ‘disadvantaged as a result of their early marriage’, when they are sometimes as young as twelve years old[5]”.






Janssen, D. F., Growing Up Sexually. Volume I. World Reference Atlas. 0.2 ed. 2004. Berlin: Magnus Hirschfeld Archive for Sexology

Last revised: Oct. 2004


[1]RWRP interviews, September 2001. See also Ivanov, I., in Roma Rights: ‘Women’s Rights’, op. cit., p. 35. [orig. footnote]

[2]Refugee Women’s Resource Project, Asylum Aid (March 2002) Romani Women from Central and Eastern Europe: A ‘Fourth World’, or Experience of Multiple Discrimination, p38, 41-2, 43 []

[3]Ivanov, I., in Roma Rights: ‘Women’s Rights’, op. cit., p. 35, as quoted by Refugee Women’s Resource Project, cit.supra

[4]IHFHR, ‘Women 2000: An Investigation into the Status of Women’s Rights in Central and South-Eastern Europe and the N.I.S’, Vienna, July 2000, pp. 367-368, as quoted by Refugee Women’s Resource Project, cit.supra. []

[5]Xhemajli, S., in Roma Rights: ‘Women’s Rights’, op. cit., p. 29, as quoted by Refugee Women’s Resource Project, cit.supra