The Dangers of PLX145/2023 to the Roma Community in Romania
By Deny Dobobrov
The Roma, one of the largest ethnic minorities in Romania, have long faced discrimination and persecution in the country. Systematically marginalized for centuries, the Roma continue to struggle with poverty, a lack of access to education, and social stigmatization. The proposed legislation PLX145/2023 targets vulnerable families at risk of child separation and compounds the already existing issues within the Roma community. This article examines the potential negative consequences of PLX145/2023 on the Roma community in Romania.
Here is the concerning part of the legislation:
(1) Depending on the family's economic situation and living conditions, a child can be at risk of separation if the family responsible for raising and caring for him is in one of the following vulnerability situations:
a) they face monetary poverty; b) lives in extreme poverty; c) has low income and does not receive social assistance benefits; d) has the single supporting parent or both parents unemployed or unemployed; e) occupy certain living spaces without the right of residence, including illegally built spaces or improvised homes or spaces that are not intended for living; f) does not have sufficient living space relative to the number of people, respectively the home is overcrowded; g) lives in inappropriate premises or encounters safety and hygiene problems the home;
(2) Depending on the social situation of the family, the child may be at risk of separation if the family responsible for raising and caring for him is in one of the following situations of vulnerability:
a) is a single parent; b) cares for a minor mother or a pregnant minor; c) the sole supporting parent or both parents are away working abroad; d) has members with disabilities that significantly affect their quality of life and participation their social life; e) has at least one family member who does not have civil status documents; f) had or has one or more children for whom a protection measure has been established special, under the conditions of the law; g) had or has one or more children abandoned in health facilities; h) had or has one or more members sentenced to a custodial sentence of freedom.
(3) Depending on the health of the family, the child may be at risk of separation if the family raising and caring for him is in one of the following situations of vulnerability:
a) has one or more members not registered on a family doctor's list; b) has one or more children not vaccinated with the mandatory schedule; c) has one or more hospitalized children; d) has one or more members with chronic and communicable diseases.
(4) Depending on the family's level of education, the child may be at risk of separation if the family raising and caring for him is in one of the following situations of vulnerability:
a) has one or both illiterate parents; b) has one or more children who do not attend classes in a form of education mandatory; c) has one or more children with special educational needs.
1. Economic impact
Art. 5 (1) of PLX145/2023 lists numerous vulnerability situations that may result in at-risk children being separated from their families. These criteria disproportionately impact the impoverished Roma population due to factors such as monetary poverty, extreme poverty, low income, and lack of access to social assistance benefits (a-d). As this legislation primarily targets those in economically disadvantaged situations, it has the potential to significantly disrupt the already struggling Roma community's financial stability.
Many Roma are already living in poverty due to systemic racism and lack of opportunities, and the proposed legislation PLX145/2023 will only compound their struggles. With the potential for at-risk children to be separated from their families, the financial burden on Roma families will only increase, leading to greater poverty and hardship. This legislation fails to address the root causes of the issues faced by the Roma community and instead may perpetuate the cycle of poverty and discrimination, further marginalizing an already vulnerable population. The impact of PLX145/2023 on the Roma community cannot be ignored and must be seriously considered before any decision is made.
2. Social impact
Art. 5 (2) highlights situations in which family members have no civil status documents or have been previously involved with the law (e, f, g, h). These factors uniquely contribute to increased vulnerability within the Roma community due to their historical and ongoing marginalization, frequent encounters with police violence, and difficulties accessing identification documents.
In Romania, the Roma community is made up of various groups, including those who were born in the country and those who arrived as refugees. Unfortunately, due to systemic issues, some Roma individuals were never registered, and others are already stateless. If PLX145/2023 becomes law, it will only exacerbate the situation for vulnerable families in the Roma community, potentially leading to more children being separated from their families and facing increased discrimination and marginalization. It is crucial that policymakers consider not only the economic and social impacts of this legislation but also the potential consequences for those who are already struggling to survive within Romanian society.
3. Health impact
PLX145/2023 also identifies several health-related vulnerability criteria that could lead to child separation for some Roma families (Art. 5(3)). Issues such as lack of access to a family doctor (a), inadequate vaccination records (b), and chronic or communicable diseases (d) are more common among marginalized communities like the Roma. Implementing this legislation would disproportionately affect the health and wellbeing of these marginalized families, further exacerbating existing inequalities.
The health-related vulnerability criteria outlined in PLX145/2023 disproportionately affect the Roma community, a group that already reports a shocking assortment of human rights abuses in health care settings. These abuses include outright denial of medical services and the provision of substandard health care. Roma patients’ right to medical information, privacy, and informed consent are often not respected. If implemented, this legislation would only contribute to the systemic issues faced by the Roma community and further erode their rights and access to basic needs.
4. Educational impact
The proposed legislation also identifies educational vulnerability factors that may lead to child separation (Art. 5(4)), which disproportionately impacts the Roma community. Illiteracy in parents (a) and lack of compulsory education attendance among children (b) are more predominant within the Roma population due to historical and ongoing educational barriers.
The educational vulnerability factors outlined in PX145/2023 only add to the obstacles faced by Roma children in accessing education. Roma children have low enrollment rates in pre-school and kindergarten, and they face severe enrollment barriers in primary education. Additionally, there is a lack of adequate desegregation policies and enforcement measures, resulting in a significant number of Roma children being placed in special education. Unfortunately, Roma children are frequently excluded from school due to discrimination, stereotyping, and lack of support from school authorities.
PLX145/2023 poses a significant threat to the Roma community in Romania, as it has the potential to exacerbate existing disparities related to economic stability, social integration, health, and education. It is important that we carefully consider the impact of this legislation on this vulnerable population.Should this legislation pass, a large number of children will be immediately at risk of being removed from their homes and placed in foster care due to pre-existing issues. As previously mentioned, the health-related vulnerability criteria disproportionately affect the Roma community. Additionally, the educational vulnerability factors would only add to the obstacles faced by Roma children in accessing education. These issues combined with the proposed legislation would have devastating effects on the Roma community, further marginalizing them and separating more children from their families.