> ASSESSMENT OF THE IMPACT OF SOCIAL INCLUSION POLICIES ON THE ROMA COMMUNITY
The existence of negative racial stereotypes concerning the roma community in Portugal is well-known and is confirmed both by academic studies and by anti-racist and human rights’ defence associations. Every so often we see newspaper and television news stories in which groups of residents are protesting loudly and sometimes violently against the re-housing of a roma community close to them. In other news stories we see that some parents do not want their children to go to the same schools as those where there are roma children. In such cases, the people raising these objections generally say they are not racists, that is, they say they do not consider the roma community to be inferior but rather they emphasise “insurmountable cultural differences” between roma and “other” people. But emphasizing difference here involves attributing a set of negative features to being “different” which are fed by long-held stereotypes which nearly always assign various types of deviant behaviour to roma.
We must suppose that discriminatory racist impulses are not limited to events shown in the media such as those mentioned above. There are other forms of discrimination of an everyday nature which are less flagrant but are no less restrictive in terms of impeding the individuals of the group in question from fully exercising their rights.
One of these rights is the access of all citizens, in equal conditions, to public services. This is one of the basic rights of the modern contract of citizenship. The purpose of this project is to assess whether or not members of the ethnic roma group have this equal access right in Portugal, in the Czech Republic and in France. Given the precarious economic circumstances in which many of the roma in these three countries live, based on exclusion from the work market which dates back many years and which has been worsened by the decline of the economic activities which traditionally served to sustain this community, the project pays special attention to the measures in the National Inclusion Plans.
The project does not seek to assess whether or not there are public policies aimed specifically at the roma community. Rather, it seeks to assess the decree of access to social policy instruments for inclusion on the part of a specific group which we know is the victim of negative and discriminatory stereotyping.
This project was designed by the European Roma Rights Center, which Númena has become associated with, and has obtained European Commission financing under the 2002-2006 Community Action Programme for Combating Social Exclusion (budget line 04.040202), by public tender (VP/2005/009).
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Bruno Dias and Tiago Ralha
Edite Rosário, José Falcão, Mónica Catarino and Rahul Kumar
This report was also published in Portuguese, Czech and French