A hot international news story: Greece has taken a young blonde girl called “Maria” away from a Roma, or gypsy, couple, though they claim to have adopted her from her biological mother. Authorities instead have accused the Roma couple of abducting Maria, who is age four or five, and of falsifying paperwork for the child and their other children. The Roma couple are accusing officials of coming after them over anti-gypsy prejudice.
The Roma people, who are also called travelers, are a minority community known for traveling around Europe and living in encampments on the fringes of society. Due to poverty, substance abuse problems in the community and criminal behavior, the Roma are often accused of being a blight on local communities. They are discriminated against and mistreated by everyone from officials to far right groups. Recently, the Roma have been targeted for investigations over claims that they force children to steal for them and for marrying off child brides.
This particular couple who took in Maria said they adopted the girl, originally from Bulgaria, with permission from her biological mom who could not care for her. They say they’re being targeted on racist grounds: Maria is blonde-haired and blue-eyed, while the Roma people generally have darker complexions. Officials counter that Maria could have been kidnapped from her biological parents to work for the Roma; additionally, Maria and the couple’s numerous other kids were living in “bad” conditions and had “poor hygiene.” All the kids were discovered after Greek police raided a Roma encampment last week.
Maria is now living in a group home and the charity caring for her says they have 10 “promising leads” as to her biological parentage.
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