In the frame of the Daphne project “Early Marriage: culture or abuse?” three meetings have been organized with representatives of public and private institutions working in direct contact with Roma communities of the territory, in order to start a dialogue between the civil society, Roma communities and local institutions and to find shared solutions to the main problems emerged.
The main topics of these meetings have been the door-to-door visits to Roma families, carried out by our cultural mediator Demir Mustafa, the Prevention Programmes implemented at some of the schools of the 5th district of Florence (“Quartiere 5”), the prevention of early marriages and collaboration and exchange of best practices between professionals working in the field of prevention and socio-educational services.
Inter-institutional meetings have contributed to identify the most crucial issues we have to focus our attention to:
- Improve the living conditions of the most disadvantaged families (especially those living at the “Poderaccio” Roma settlement) – we have observed a strong link between the living conditions and social integration. We suggest discussions that involve also representatives of the Municipality of Florence or of the district.
- Invest in education and focus on drop-out prevention – we have observed also a strong relationship between the educational level and the age of getting married: people with higher levels of education usually get married later. This means that education has a fundamental role in preventing early marriages. That’s why our priority is to support children with learning difficulties (through ripetitions and support with their homework after school), to raise awareness in the Roma communities through door-to-door visits and discussions by involving also Roma who have completed their studies or even university, to speak with them about contraception.
The meetings have revealed that early marriages within Roma communities are not so common anymore and parents prefer their kids to finish school first and find a job before getting married. Nevertheless, professionals who participated at the meetings consider it necessary to implement an awareness raising campaign on sexuality and contraception methods at the gynaecologist studios in order to reach young girls, as these topics usually are not addressed within the family. Furthermore, all participants agree that it’s necessary to continue the implementation of the Prevention Programmes at schools, as feedbacks of both teachers and pupils have been extremely positive.