Wednesday, May 25, 2005
Gypsies, tramps and thieves
If you ever wondered why Roma people still flee to Britain, despite the popular prejudice against 'gypsies' and the vitriolic hate campaigns in the tabloids, the answer can be found in a report in Sunday's Observer.
Communist Czechoslovakia routinely sterilised Roma to curb the birth rate of 'undesirables', but this was thought to have ceased soon after the 1989 Velvet Revolution that brought reformers to power.The subsequent sentences in this report are, however, a severe test of one's Liberal sympathies.
Human rights groups have begun to unearth alarming reports that doctors and social workers are still pressuring gypsies to be sterilised, often while they were addled by anaesthetic or the pain of childbirth, or by assuring them that the procedure could be reversed or that they were being fitted with an intra-uterine contraceptive.
Gypsy society values large families, and infertility is shameful for both women and men. Most victims of forced sterilisation say their partners soon left them for other women.Even so, it is shameful that a practice redolent of Nazi eugenics continues in an EU member country.
Another test of your Liberal sympathies. Would you be prepared to defend the right of Roma people to live their own lives if the people in your local community set out on a bile-fuelled witch-hunt? Or would you decide that discretion is the better part of valour?