The discussion topics, directly or indirectly linked to early marriages, were selected in cooperation with several participants of our project. The main source presented Roma mediator together with representatives of local public institutions, involved in the interinstitutional team. Conversations on physical and psychological maturity, sexuality, contraception methods are not really a subject of discussions in Roma community. Considering also the results of the research carried out in local Roma settlements, informations on contraception should be provided by the medical staff (according to the experiences, unfortunately in many cases when the girl is already pregnant). Furthermore, the topics were discussed with the representatives of interinstitutional team, where the Roma women, working as Roma assistant on local primary schools, were present as well. A common opinion was identified to focus on Roma girls, aged from 12 to 17 years, representing the most vulnerable group. Local Roma girls, with few exceptions, rarely successfully complete compulsory primary education. Thus, ending their educational path very early.
With strong support of Roma mediator, the discussions were successfully organized. At the first meeting, the main subject was dedicated to maturity, sexuality and contraception. After obvious embarrassment, the debate opened questions related to early marriages and consequences of early parenthood. Nowadays, local Roma community still doesn’t decisively address, act and react in cases of cohabitation before the age of 18. Debating on topics as future, independence, maternity, some of the girls expressed the wish to continue their education. Without exception, hairdressing and beauty services were selected as the most interesting topics. And this was the topic of our next gathering! The discussion was completed with a short workshop, creating clay jewellery.

Our second gathering in the premises of Ljudska univerza Kočevje attracted even more Roma. Obviously more relaxed atmosphere than during our first meeting is an excellent opportunity to address again some of the topics already discussed. Deep and open thoughts on growing-up brings up facts, the maturity process follows the same rhythm regardless of gender, ethnicity. The majority of girls starts dreaming about boys and vice versa. The puberty is the time, when hormones start moving in their own way, with boys and girls, regardless where you’re coming from or who you are. Our gathering continues in a local beauty centre. The group of girls is accompanied by the local journalist, responsible for preparing news on Roma community in Kočevje region. Our host firstly presents her educational path. Of course, the most interesting part was the working process, where girls actively participate as a client and beautician. At the end, some girls voluntarily presented our gathering in front of the TV camera.

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Media coverage:

RTV SLO, TV SLO 2, “So vakeres”, 4.10.2016 (10:33-11:42), prepared by: Tjaša Šerkezi