Documentary highlights how Slovak society failed its Roma minority

Roma children who were adopted by Swedish couples in the 90s now thrive in ways that would be unthinkable in their native Slovakia.

Ria Gehrerová
Ria Gehrerová Denník N, Slovakia
Source: Denník N
Documentary highlights how Slovak society failed its Roma minority - NewsMavens
Adopted Roma. Archives of Katarína Farkašová

Why this story matters:

Slovakia has not yet dealt with its widespread racism towards the Roma minority. And Slovaks do not want to admit that the Roma minority is struggling not because they are unable to succeed, but rather because of systemic racism and the predjudice of the people who are supposed to help them.

A new Slovak film, "Švédi z Osady", documents the lives and successes of Roma children who returned to Slovakia to meet their parents.

Alexander is one of the Roma children in the film. He was adopted by a Swedish couple and is now 28. He has a university degree, a family. People usually guess he is from Italy or Spain. But he is from the Slovak Roma population.

He wanted to meet his biological parents so the Slovak filmmaker Katarína Farkašová arranged a meeting and accompanied him when he met his parents in the Roma settlement.

"If I had not been not adopted, I would probably have the same life as my 17 siblings have. It means no education, no job, to be discriminated against by the majority and never leave the country. You may think I am exaggerating, but frankly, this is true. Even if many Slovaks do not want to accept it," said Alexander.

Details from the story:

  • The filmmaker Katarína Farkašová is a feminist activist working for an Alliance for women (Aliancia žien).
  • Roma children from the movie were adopted by Swedish families from foster care in Eastern Slovakia. The director of the care home, Dr Terézia Leks, invited international families to visit the children, for she knew that their chances of local adoption were slim.
  • According to statistics, Slovaks are less and less willing to adopt a Roma child from foster care. Less than a quarter of people who are thinking about adoption are willing to adopt a Roma child.
  • A similar story about the successes of Roma children who were raised away from predjudice and racism comes from Sheffield in Great Britain where Slovak Roma communities travelled to find better jobs.
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