For immediate release: October 31, 2023
The World Roma Federation is appalled by the recent discrimination that Dolly Costello, a Romani woman, faced in open court on October 6. During a hearing for extending a restraining order against the father of her children, who has previous convictions for strangulation and suffocation among others, the attorney representing this individual made disparaging remarks against Ms. Costello due to her Romani heritage.
"We expect the legal system to be fair and impartial for everyone, irrespective of their ethnicity," says Janos Sztojka, President and Founder of the World Roma Federation. "The use of discriminatory comments to undermine a victim of domestic violence in her fight for justice is nothing short of disgraceful."
Deny Dobobrov, Director of International Relations at the World Roma Federation, added, "This case exemplifies the biases and stereotypes faced by Romani individuals every day. It is our duty to raise awareness, educate society about our culture and protect our community from further discrimination."
During the October 6 hearing, when arguing against the extension of Ms. Costello's restraining order, the attorney remarked "...with all due respect, without casting excursions [aspersions], she is a gypsy fortune teller." This reference not only contained a racial slur but also disparaged Ms. Costello's profession in an irrelevant manner.
The term "gypsy" is considered derogatory by many in the Roma community as it perpetuates misinformation and stereotypes associated with our ethnic group. Many Romani people prefer self-identifying as "Roma" or "Romani” which are terms taken from our language and mean “people.” Furthermore, Senate Resolution 124 (S.Res 124) recognizes Roma as an ethnic group in the United States.
Apart from bearing emotional pain caused by these offensive comments, Ms. Costello has faced setbacks in her pursuit of personal safety due to the legal tactics employed by her abuser's attorney. To date, it appears that these tactics prioritize avoiding a restraining order during child custody proceedings over protecting her and her children's well-being.
Ms. Costello has filed a lawsuit against attorney Jeffery A. Denner, under Title 42 of the U.S. Code, Section 1981 and other relevant or applicable civil rights laws of Massachusetts for emotional distress, violation of fair treatment, intentional infliction of emotional distress (IIED), and violation of her civil rights.
The World Roma Federation will closely monitor this case as it progresses further, and offer support to Ms. Costello who deserves to seek redress without facing racial or occupation-based discrimination in a court of law. We urge all parties involved in the legal process to uphold their responsibility and treat all individuals equitably, regardless of their ethnicity or background.
To learn more about the World Roma Federation's mission and work, please visit our website at www.wrf-gov.org.
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World Roma Federation