Time to drop the Roma myths

Global Public Square

By Eva Cosse, Special to CNN

Editor’s note: Eva Cossé is the Western Europe research assistant at Human Rights Watch. The views expressed are her own.

When I was growing up in Greece, my grandparents often told me that if I didn’t eat my food, they would call the Gypsies to take me away. Sadly, the old myths about Roma snatching babies were revived after police took a little blonde-haired, blue-eyed girl named Maria into custody in a Roma settlement in Farsala, central Greece, on October 16.

The headlines in the Greek newspapers said it all: “Roma snatch babies!” “The DNA ‘spoke’: The 4-year-old found in a Romani settlement is not a Gypsy,” “Amber Alert: Dangerous Roma circuit snatch babies!!!” But the media have not been alone in using stigmatizing language against Roma. Politicians have joined in too.

Roma face persistent discrimination across Europe. A European Union Fundamental Rights…

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