22 Feb
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Written comments on the situation of Romani Women in Ukraine to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women

On February the 13th, 2017, Chiricli along with the European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC) have presented written comments on the situation of Romani Women in Ukraine to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) for consideration in its review of Ukraine’s compliance with the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.

The report of Chiricli and the ERRC highlights the most pregnant Human rights violations that Roma Women face in Ukraine. Most of those violations are not reported because there is a lack of trust of the authorities by Roma in general.

Among many challenges Romani women are with lower education, higher school dropout rate and irregular school attendance comparing to non-Romani women in the country. In certain cases the high number of people with incomplete secondary school education is related to early marriages. However, it is important to note that Romani girls in pursuing their education face barriers such as poverty and lower expectations of community or family members regarding the education of the girls and in some cases prohibition of the girls to go to school. The Roma boys, on the other hand, normally finish secondary school and even get high education.

High unemployment rates and poor employment opportunities deprive Romani women and girls of realistic opportunities for integration and full participation in society. No official statistics exist on the current rate of unemployment of Roma, but according to the estimates of Roma NGOs, only 38 % of Roma are employed. The Romani women have little or no possibility for official employment because of the lack of adequate education, experience or documents. In addition to the discrimination based on ethnicity Romani women face gender-based discrimination by employers. For this reason, most of the Romani women are self-employed, earning their living by selling goods, collecting scrap metal, fortune-telling or begging.

As previously mentioned, the lack of personal documents hinders the possibility for many Romani women and/or girls to access education, health care, employment and other related services. The ERRC has worked with communities in Odessa region since 2012, assisting Roma in application for personal documents. In three cities Odessa, Kirovograd and Uzhgorod between 30% (15% women) and 40% (10% women) of Roma reported that they lack at least one of the documents which are necessary in order to access a range of services.

The problem of access to health care is often caused by the lack of documents, identification and registration and the lack of funds to pay for medical services and purchase of medicines. The Ukrainian Constitution guarantees medical care free of charge, but in reality it is almost impossible to obtain free medical services. In addition, there is mistrust of Roma in the official medical institutions and the fear of stigma and discrimination by health workers is common. The language barrier additional obstacle to access health services for those Romani women not speaking neither Ukrainian nor Russian.

The subsequent conflict in the East of Ukraine, gave rise to serious concerns about human rights violations. Displacement of Roma communities as internally displaced persons (IDPs) has increased dramatically since the beginning of June 2014. The monitoring results show that, while Roma are generally in a vulnerable position even in times of stability, in times of crisis they are exceedingly vulnerable. Romani women are particularly vulnerable among the displaced, especially when they are pregnant or have to take care of their children. According to the monitoring results, about 9000 Roma people had to leave their houses in the East of Ukraine since the crisis started. With the arrival of internally displaced Roma from the Eastern regions to other regions of Ukraine the negative attitude towards Roma intensified. About 55.6% displaced Roma interviewed by Chiricli were not registered as IDPs fearing consequences, such as confiscation of their property by the police or other authorities. Some fear detention and mistreatment for no reason and lack of necessary documentation such as passports and residents’ registration in the ATO area. Non-registered IDPs could not receive social assistance, child benefits or pension from the state and experienced difficulties in registration of their documents.

The report of Chiricli and ERRC is ready to download on the Resources section.

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