Roma SOURCE Country Report
Total population in your country
47,021.031 (INE-National Institute for Statistics)
Total Roma population in your country
Total population in your region
5,111.706 (INE-National Institute for Statistics)
Total Roma population in your region
Typical size of Roma household
80 m2 (usually standard official protected flats-estimate)
Theme 1: Background
The first evidence of the presence of gypsies in Spain seems to go back to 1425. The entered through the Pyrenees expanding quickly throughout all the territory, thus, the Gypsy community has been present in Spain for more than 500 years and formed part of the landscape even before the proper country itself was constituted and recognised.
In this sense, the vast majority of the current gypsy population in Spain rounds one million people, a little bit less than 2% of the population which, in addition, has very special characteristics which differentiate it from the Roma communities in Europe.
But in the last decade, Spain has also been one of the main destination and host country for Roma communities of Romanian origin, which they considered something similar to “the promised land” due to the work and climate possibilities this country offered. These circumstances favoured the immigration of a non-determined important gypsy population, which from the beginning, has been living in very precarious situations, fact that has been even worsened by the current economical crisis the country is suffering.
It is very difficult to study the flux of Romanian gypsies towards Spain due to the lack of existing data according to race as this itself constitutes an illegality, because we cannot request this information to the official inhabitants registry, as well as other sources that are normally used for the study of international migrations. The economic reason encouraged this migration from Romania with the objective of reaching better living conditions and standard, the Roma families living in our country do not want to abandon it even if they live in extreme poverty and although we are suffering the effects of the crisis, as they consider that there are better survival opportunities still here in comparison with their own origin country.
In addition, there are calculations that show that approximately 3.000 Romanian gypsies, being the case of the Romanian, specifically, the province of Castellón the one that homes the most. A thousand of them lives in the city of Valencia, mainly in the districts of El Cabanyal and Natzaret, and the rest, is distributed in the metropolitan area of cap i casal, as well as in Alicante and its surroundings.
The gypsies arrived to Spain proceeding from several European countries, but their real origin is the same as the rest of gypsies of the World, India, more specifically, their origin is situated in the city of Kannauj, as the main researchers that have dedicated study to this issue, confirm.
We can highlight the fact that the city of Kannauj was the intellectual capital when the great exodus of the gypsy population was initiated in the beginning of the XI century. The entry of gypsies in Europe is documented from the first years of the XV century onwards.
Due to their nomad condition, gipsy communities extended themselves quickly throughout all the Iberian Peninsula, however, it is in the XX century when they abandon their nomad nature in order to establish themselves permanently throughout all the Spanish geography, with a greater incidence in warm areas. For this reason, the south of Spain (Andalusia) has a greater gypsy population percentage than the rest of the regions, the same happens with the Valencian Region, whose gypsy population percentage is greater than the rest of Spain, obviously not including the Andalusia Region that accumulates nearly half of the gypsy population of the country.
As it has been mentioned above, the weather factor has conditioned the establishment of gypsy communities in Spain significantly. This already happened with the first settlements and still continues to occur with the new migratory flows. In the case of the Valencian Region, apart from the weather factor, its productive and job creation capacities has made that it becomes an important attractive destination for Roma immigrants.
83% of gypsies’ houses are situated in traditionally old areas, and this implies that the gypsy population is mainly sedentarised, existing in some neighbourhoods or districts a high concentration of gypsies families’ homes. It is important to note that in many places, there is more than one family nucleus, with an average of 4.p people per house, number which has not varied since 1991.
27% of the housing presents poverty characteristics (i.e. 4% of the houses haven’t got water).
Access to public health services is universal in all Spanish territory; therefore, for the gypsy population it is the same than for the rest of the Spanish population. Exactly the same happens with public services, there is not any type of barrier.
The problem with gypsies in Spain is not of a politic, institutional or administrative nature, but of strictly social one, as it happens in Europe, where the Commission and the European Parliament Project and promote Roma inclusion as the same time as an important part of society, show their refusal in very different ways.
During centuries and until the second half of the XX century, Spanish gypsies were nomadic. Nowadays, this does not longer exist.
In this section were we refer to housing we should distinguish between the institutional scope and the social one; in the first one of them, barriers do not exist, and the access to houses of gypsies families is made easy, something completely different to what happens at the social level, where frequently coexistence and proximity with gypsies is refused, and currently there are a great number of conflicts provoked by this reason with neighbour communities in different places in Spain.
When we refer to rental, to be gipsy constitutes an important barrier that makes access to houses very difficult, and therefore, often the owner do not want to rent their properties if they discover or suspect this ethnic identity.
Spanish gypsies are different to the rest of Roma communities because of several characteristics or cultural traditions that where assimilated during centuries and which they still preserve. The family sense, their cooking style and their music are, among others, some points that differ from those of the rest of Europe.
In addition, in Spain you can hear people talking about the “Gypsy Law”, something that really does not exist. What does exist and is applied by gypsies are a series of moral values and cultural codes on which they base all their lives, both at the personal and the social level.
Spanish gypsies show a great respect towards the elderly and always talk to them politely. An old person that has shown a good attitude and conduct is very respected and becomes a referent (old person) to whom they ask his or her opinion or advise in all type of conflicts.
If someone dies, the gypsy family is in mourning , that means that they dress in black, do not listen to music, do not watch television, do not go into a bar or café, the do not sing or dance, etc…
Normally the mourning lasts three or six months (this is ok, it is normal), or one year (normally if it was someone who was very close or that you loved a lot) or more than a year (it is optional).
There is also a strong bond between the Spanish gipsy community with art, music and dance, whose artists are recognised as first figures Worldwide. Gypsy musicians constituted and still constitute an important factor in the enrichment, maintenance and preservation of flamenco in Spain, with gypsy figures as famous as Camarón de la isla, Diego el Cigala, Manolo Caracol, José Mercé or Raimundo Amador. We can also affirm the same with dances, with flamenco Bailaores like Carmen Amaya, Joaquín Cortés or Farruquito that are also internationally well-known and appreciated.
Theme 2: Policy relating to Roma –
At the national level we have the State Council of the Roma community, depending on the Ministry for Health, Social Affairs and Equality, which is an intercollegiate, consultative and advisory body through which a character is conferred institutional collaboration and cooperation of Gypsy associations with the State Administration for the development of social welfare policies that allow the integral development of the Roma population.
Among the latest actions taken to encourage the development and promotion of Roma and their promotion at national level, we can include the "Plan of Action for the Development of Roma 2010-2012" conducted by the Ministry for Health and Social Policy, whose fundamental objective is to promote new actions to correct the imbalances between the Roma and the entire population resident in Spain and, thus, promote various forms of participation and social development to promote the full enjoyment of rights and access to goods of the Roma population.
The Plan's areas of activity are developed in:
1 - Citizenship, Equal Treatment and Non-discrimination
2 – Education
3 - Employment and Economic Activity
4 - Social Action.
5 – Health
6 – Housing
7 – Culture
Valencia recently approved budget cuts in the implementation of the II Inclusion Strategy, a strategy designed for the development and monitoring with the direct participation of various organisations working with the third sector, including Roma organisations themselves, this time represented by Federation Maranatha of Gypsy Associations. This has given us the opportunity to review and amend each of the issues that should be modified to improve efficiency in implementing the proposed measures regarding the inclusion of the Roma community.
The Second Plan is divided in the following strategic lines:
1 .- Working for a more cohesive society through the development of citizenship actions, relationships and psychosocial support, economic, housing, environment and specific attention to social sectors.
2. - To ensure equity in education.
3. - To promote access to employment.
4. - To advance the health and social welfare.
5. - Application of R & D & i for the treatment of Social Inclusion.
Some of the measures that have been taken include:
The maintenance of associations linked to the Gypsy people and their intervention programs, primarily those related to absenteeism and truancy, the promotion of Roma´s women potential and social awareness about their identity and specific needs by conducting cultural events and development seminars.
-Access to housing
1. Financial access to housing: (purchase, rent and housing autopromotion )
-Housing for excluded groups
6. Promotion of public housing and access by individuals at risk of exclusion
Quality of housing
9. Housing Rehabilitation
10. Actions in degraded areas
11. Public-private entities collaboration partnerships
Studies and Analyses
12. Studies on residential exclusion
The measures have been adopted in health issues are the following:
2. Mental Health
3. Chronic and terminal illnesses
4. Addictive behaviour and substance abuse-drug prevention
5. Infectious diseases
6. Health education
7. Programs for specific groups
8. Support measures and reconciliation to caregivers
9. Training and sensitisation of health professionals
11. Social awareness
12. Studies and research
2. Adapting the education system for the excluded Roma
3. Compensatory education
4. Schooling and early childhood care
-Expansion of care devices
5. Facilitate and promote school
-Involve abstenstism risk detection
6. Prevention and treatment of truancy
Support for families
7. Prevention and treatment of school failure
8. Itineraries training / education for youth at risk of early school leaving
9. Coverage of special educational needs
10. Diversity and social integration of immigrants
11. Measures of school integration of ethnic minorities
12. Adult Education
13. Continuous training and retraining of teachers
14. Collaboration and cooperation
1. Support business partners in the integration of the Roma
Guidance and advice
7. Insertion Individualized Itineraries
10. Refinement and adaptation of the training offer
15. Coordination among public entities
The measures taken in the citizenship area are the following:
Theme 3: Roma children –
In Valencia, as it happens in the rest of Spain and Europe, there is a historical imbalance in the academic training of Roma compared to the rest of society. This lack of training hinders the inclusion of the Roma in society and their access to skilled jobs, this being one of the major problems that have not yet been resolved, due in large part to the lack of assistance to regular schools and to the early abandonment of young Roma without having completed their basic studies.
This has meant that we are facing a serious situation that requires urgent and necessary attention for the professional future of the young Romas. A performance that would put an end "to the loop of poverty and marginalisation in which the Roma community is”, as we recently said the European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, László Andor.
The elements that explain this situation are multiple and respond to the way the Roma have evaluated the educational system, a system with which they are not identified, leading to general disinterest and lack of motivation for learning.
Absenteeism is one of the clearest consequences of the existing distance between the educational system and the Gypsy cultural reality. The school is still considered by many Gypsies as an institution that tries to mold the individual in a uniform manner without regard to the socio-cultural needs of children who assist regularly, and they miss pedagogical and didactic materials which identify them.
The gypsy individual is not reflected in the education he or she receives, nor of the cultural aspects of their life, they only see the school as an instrumental, non-training matter, that is, that the school can be useful to read, write and learn mathematics, but for nothing more.
This collision between the majority-minority culture is in part determined by the fear of "contamination" of a counter ¡and homogenized culture, so Gypsies prefer to stay away, because they feel as if the educational system robs them their identity.
The family life of young Roma in the Valencian Region is very similar to thus of the rest of young Roma in the country, and is conditioned by the "racking" of the daily lives of their parents, which mostly revolves around street trading (markets) and the "cult" around which to articulate most of their social relationships.
When young Roma people reach the age of 16, they have absorbed the values that define the true identity of all them and affects their family life, which is based on respect for certain values and ethical behaviours such as:
• Respect for the family as it is the supreme institution for the Gypsy society.
Children and young Roma do exactly the same as the rest of the kids ... play with their friends.
Roma children feel the rejection from adults or their own classmates because of their ethnic origin when they feel "different" to others from a very negative perspective. It is at that moment when they lose their innocence and in the end, in many cases, start to self-discriminate among themselves and feel less than the rest of society.
Some of the programs implemented in the Valencian Region, in order to favor the inclusion of Roma children and youth are the following:
- Programs to prevent truancy.
Theme 4: Health of the Roma population –
Firstly, the scarcity of data produced in the field of health and health care for a particular group like the Roma should be noted and highlighted. The compiled data, therefore, respond to related to work and documents prepared by experts who are familiar with the situation and coexistence with the Gypsy ethnic group.
- Infant mortality is 1.4 times the national average life expectancy for the Roma population is 8 to 9 years below average. In extremely marginal situations, the estimated life expectancy is 10 years younger than the average.
- There is an increased incidence of infectious diseases, mainly hepatitis B and C. It is noted that vertical transmission or mother to child is an important means of transmission for these types of diseases. There is also a higher incidence of HIV, mainly in those using drugs intravenously.
- Childhood vaccination deficit and, in general, inadequate monitoring of programs, especially in areas with poor socioeconomic status.
- Poor diet and nutrition, primarily in children (affecting, among other things, their oral health). In adults, this is characterised by excessive consumption of coffee and fat.
- Improper use of resources such as drug abuse or excessive use of the emergency services, this trend is directly related to the need to cure the ills of the fastest way possible, also due to the strong association they have between disease and death.
- There is a higher level of accidents or unintentional injuries such as burns, falls, assaults, fractures, wounds, poisoning ...
Roma women develop a key role within their community. They are educators, caretakers of children and elderly and transmit the norms and values of Roma culture. In regard to health care, there are also women who synthesise the knowledge and treatments for diseases and illnesses.
As the role of caring for the health of the Roma family is entrusted to women, this in turn tends to relegate the feminine figure to the last place.
- High rate of fertility with pregnancy and childbirth at an early age and even at older ages.
Theme 5: Work, unemployment and training of Roma
According to the INE, the unemployment rate for the whole of the Roma population is 13.8%, about 3'5 points higher than the unemployment rate for the entire Spanish population. This indicates that unemployment among the Roma population is only slightly higher than the rest of the population and much lower than other social groups in Spain. In addition, Roma Gypsies and start from a disadvantage in other social groups would evidence a much higher unemployment rate. This disadvantage manifests itself in a much lower academic level than the rest of the populations level, while t71'2% of the Roma population is illiterate absolute or functional, the rest of the Spanish population is 15.3%. However, data show a positive evolution, and that evidence that illiteracy decreases as one age group does.
In the Valencian Region, generally men and women are almost equal at work when it comes to sale in the markets, being the main source of family income. Women tend to be in the parade selling, while men are involved in logistics and what they call “market business”, which is the search and negotiating with companies for the purchase of goods at good prices, enabling them to sell at and obtain a profit margin.
Men do sales work and women take care of the home and family.
As for children, they do not work officially, but even when they are teenagers it is common to accompany and help their parents.
More than a third of the employed gypsies are engaged in street vending (34'2%). In addition, there are many construction jobs for men and cleaning and services in women. These occupations require very little qualification, with almost two thirds of them developing this type of work, while the data of the Spanish population as a whole, points that only 14% are unskilled workers.
By sector, 76% of Roma work in the service sector, 65% for the Spanish entire population. Another area where the Roma population is greater than the Spanish is the agricultural sector, with 8.8% of employed Roma, compared to 5.2% of Spanish; while the share percentage of Roma employed in industry (4.7%) is very low.
There are basically two types of barriers that hinder access to the labour market, and both are equally important and responsible, as the Gypsies of Valencia have been relegated to the sale as if that was their sole resource for survival. These two barriers are:
1 .- The existing strong reluctance in society to offer a job to a gypsy because of the many stereotypes about their ability to work and their attitude towards it.
2 .- The lack of training to enable the Roma population of Valencia the access to minimally skilled jobs due to the high dropout rate that exists in this Region, which reaches, in most schools, 100 %.
The opportunities available to Gypsies of Valencia for their training when referring to formal education are the same as for the rest of society. In addition, there are also specific training and employment programs for the Roma, such as employment workshops, trade workshops and job placement among others, all of them funded by the European Social Fund.
The unfavorable cultural situation of the Roma population is one of the most serious problems that explain the precariousness of the community. An active gypsy community, where two thirds are illiterate absolute or functional, ie, fails to complete primary school, a situation that has a 3.19% of the entire Spanish population. This is consistent with the fact that the Roma population is much younger than the Spanish average, and we're not only talking about a very young population and eager to enter the labor market, it is a community that begins to work with an age when the rest of the population is prepared and trained to enter the workforce better prepared.
The training of the Roma living in the Valencia is a priority for all (associations movement and Public Administration), and that is why the priority has been highlighted as one of the main goals in the Second Plan for Social Inclusion of the Comunitat Valenciana, which was recently approved.
The main reasons attributed to the situation of unemployed Roma are, first, because they are Roma (31%). 27% attributed to the labour market situation and 26% of their lack of training (or not having a driver's license). Notably, there is some residual response regarding "no attractive offers to forego the aid of the government."
Work undertaken by the Federation Maranatha in their training programs:
• Promoting comprehensive social levels, cultures and peoples of the Roma, to achieve real equality of rights and duties.
• Research, development and maintenance of culture, language, history and customs gypsies.
• Coordinate activities of member associations, ensuring that observe current legislation applicable to them and their activities.
• Serve as a union between the different associations to exchange information on activities performed.
Theme 6: Community relations
Only recently, since the beginning of the associative movement in Spain, the Gypsies began to claim social policy measures and actions that enable an improvement in their living conditions, but also recognition and respect for their cultural identity and fundamental rights, aiming at an equal treatment with the rest of society, although it was reflected in the text of the 1978 Constitution, in practice, there has been no real in almost any way.
Since the inception of the Roma associations in Spain have been seeking active participation in decision-making from the various associations, federations and platforms distributed throughout the country, but progress in this participation and the degree of involvement vary widely depending on the organisation and plan of action, being able to say that nationally there are a number of structures that allow the participation of the Roma through a representation of it, but this representation, in reality, is very "corseted" and closed a few organizations that do not quite reflect the true "feel" of Spanish gypsy and their real needs.
Moreover, at regional level there is great diversity of situations in the participation of Roma organizations with their respective regional governments, in the case of Valencia can be said that there is a significant involvement of Roma in decision- decisions that affect them, as there is an ongoing dialogue with the various authorities (Department) and the regional government itself, having been he who has called for Gypsy organizations to review and make as many amendments considered appropriate in the draft Second Master Plan for Social Inclusion of the Comunitat Valenciana, some amendments and proposals were finally accepted and included in the Plan, which has subsequently been approved in a rate of 80%.
Depending on the region may be greater or less difficult to participate in the decision-making, but it should be noted that normally does not depend on one's own regional government administration and so, but rather of the organizations in these regions representing Roma people. Roma organizations that are truly active and interested to participate and engage in the politics of inclusion are always at your disposal mechanisms that allow them to, but not only that, but also often found a willingness by political representatives rule in the region.
The views of the majority population are strongly conditioned by the many stereotypes that exist about for centuries on the gypsy stereotypes that are transmitted from father to son for generations, these being the main cause of widespread rejection of existing social conditions.
In the many workshops to raise awareness that the Federation has been conducting Maranatha in recent years in many colleges and secondary schools, it has been shown that children and adolescents express rejection and even hatred of their parents towards the Roma, rejection reflected in the verbalization of stereotypes that after being examined carefully and asking its foundation, can not explain and reiterate the findings that their elders have heard or seen in the media.
- Gypsies are thieves.
Society imposes integration at the expense of a loss of their own ethnic identity.
Both FSG and the Romani Union developed several programs through agreements with local, regional and national levels, in addition to European projects. The most important of these projects is known ACCESS program, funded by the European Union, through which the FSG was able to offer an opportunity to labor market access to thousands of gypsies in Spain.
In Valencia there are basically two Roma associations federations are recognized by the administration itself as the partner of Roma to the Valencian Government, carrying out various programs in coordination with the different Regional Ministry and municipalities. We are referring, of course, to the Proprietary Association Maranatha Federation and FAGA Gypsy.
Specifically, the Maranatha Federation provides training courses mainly in the field of new technologies, but also makes programs for truancy prevention, promotion of women, cultural events, international seminars, workshops, awareness raising, training of monitors and , very recently, European projects that are intended for the same goals that the federation works since its founding in 1995.
Gypsy families have no objection to live with the rest of the majority population, the problem almost always is given by the same population, since some of them do not want, under any circumstances, to have a gypsy family about his. The conflicts that are generated in many parts of Spain for this reason are very common, sometimes even a neighborhood called for demonstrations against the Roma families living in their neighborhoods in order to expel them. This is a situation that has worsened to the extent that Gypsy families were leaving the "slums" as a way of life and placed in housing that also shared with non-Gypsy families.
Of note in this regard that there are numerous cores and neighborhoods of this type of housing where Roma families live almost alone, as does the neighborhood of "coma" in Paterna, or the neighborhood of the 613 homes in Burjassot . But these districts ended up becoming marginal sites with little care and utilities. This situation has been changing over recent years, mainly thanks to numerous intervention projects funded by the European Social Fund, such as RIU project to improve the neighborhood of the 613 mentioned in the town of Burjassot.
As projects, nationally, the most important of them all remains the ACCESS Program managed by the FSG, then there are numerous national, regional and local, developed by virtually all Roma organizations, which mainly focus in the eradication of absenteeism and early school leaving.
Theme 7: Income and poverty
Compared to the average income of a Spanish family, which is little more than 2,000 € / month, a gypsy family is in less than half, around 800 €. This is due to its difficulty in accessing the labor market and basically, a large majority of Roma families, are based on social welfare and subsidies they receive, complementing aid with little income from sales that take place in the markets or collecting and selling scrap.
Of course yes, because otherwise it can be said with certainty that the gypsy families could not survive, since they are systematically denied, as explained, access to a job equal to which adds the other hand, a general lack of training.
Most Roma families are supported by social benefits and economic benefits they receive from different branches and agencies, both public and private, such as the Regional Ministry. This is the case of the Department of Justice and Social Welfare entitlements, or of the Department of Infrastructure, Planning and Environment for access to decent housing. Caritas also makes a great social work attention to the needs of gypsy families and Red Cross and food banks.
These are the people who habitually engage in the collection of scrap metal or cardboard, and that to assert themselves, if you collect enough to eat, then eat and, if not collected enough, then do not eat.
Then there are social services in the region, which perform very specific support to those most in need, or the support offered by the town councils of the municipalities in which they live. All this regardless of the aid that traditionally can offer their own churches or private non-profit organization.
Theme 8: Other issues
As mentioned above the fundamental activity of the Roma community is hawking, especially taking place in markets, supplemented with secondary activities such as collecting scrap metal and seasonal activities in agriculture. Street vending has historically assumed a positive step in improving their economic and living conditions of some of the Roma community, especially during the period of 1,980 and 2,000, complemented by increased access to social benefits on any type of care. State regulation of street trading in 1985, then extended to the municipal level, and progressive access to Social Security, have allowed an expansion and relative stability of the vendors in the Roma community.
In fact, from around 2000, there has been some deterioration in income from street vending as a result of a series of economic changes. The situation of street vendors from the general view is facing new challenges of globalization, competition for the presence of more foreign immigrants in the markets and, especially, large store and check the growth of markets and their positions. The reality is that the market stalls of Roma are under saturation, ie, several vendors of two or three households in the same position in order to provide work for children. As a result, you have plenty of merchandise to sell to survive in the sale or complete the activity of the market with additional work, such as collecting scrap metal for a living.
This saturation of street trading has generated several visions within the Roma community on the situation arise, among them are the following:
1 - The vision of a selective removal of street vending is one view, saying many of the Gypsies who want a future for their children different from street vending.
2 - Modernisation of street vending. Recognition that the model of itinerant Gypsy community, a model of economic survival for most of the vendors, has "peaked" and that is price changes to "dignify peddling." Among the various forms of modernization or opinions include cooperatives as a way to integrate a part of gypsies traveling in the economy and Social Security adapted its economic and its cultural model.
3 - Finally, there is a minority that advocates a model of entrepreneurship as self-employed professional, integrated Roma organisations and not necessarily with strong ties to the economic organisations of society.
Books and studies:
"Location and socioeconomic problems of the Roma people living in Valencia”. E.M.E.R. Regional Ministry for Employment and Social Security (1991).
OthersMaranatha Federation of Gypsy Associations
II Plan Inclusión Social of the Valencia Community
Mundo Gitano – Gypsy World