Eleven Romani Women Refused Birth Allowance in Romania

29 October 2003

On May 23, 2003, Ms Adriana Boroş, a 22-year-old Romani woman from the village of Frata in northeastern Romania, testified to the ERRC, in partnership with the Cluj-based Romani organisation Resource Center for Roma Communities (RCRC), that Ms L.Ş., the secretary of the Frata Mayor's Office, refused her and ten other Romani women birth allowances, stating that they needed to be legally married before she would receive their applications. According to the Article 25(1) of the Law 416/2001 on Guaranteeing Minimum Income, the birth allowance is a one-time payment of 1,400,000 Romanian lei (approximately 40 Euro) given to women who apply within six months of birth, and is applicable for the first four children only. Ms Boroş stated that approximately one-year earlier, following the birth of their son, her boyfriend went to the Mayor's Office with the necessary documents to apply for the birth allowance. However, according to Ms Boroş, Ms L.Ş. asked her boyfriend whether the couple was married and, when he replied that they were not, she refused to accept the application and stated that they would only receive the birth allowance and the monthly child allowance after they got married. Ms Boroş also testified that Ms L.Ş. did not inform the couple of any deadline for submitting their application. The couple did not get married due to financial constraints and, after some time, Ms Boroş met Ms L.Ş. at the Mayor's Office who reportedly advised her to sue her boyfriend for alimony and promised to take her application for the birth allowance when she returned with a court decision. Ms Boroş told the ERRC/RCRC that she discussed the idea with her boyfriend and, because they did not know any better, she sued him for alimony. On March 27, 2003, Ms Boroş returned to the Mayor's Office with a copy of the court decision and the necessary documentation and Ms L.Ş. accepted her application for the birth allowance. After one month, the couple returned to the office and Ms L.Ş. informed them that the application had been denied due to a missing declaration by Ms Boroş's boyfriend agreeing that the application be made in her name by the office in Cluj, which processes the applications. The couple submitted the declaration and were waiting for a response as of the date of the ERRC/RCRC visit.

The actions of Ms L.Ş. were the topic of media coverage. On April 27, 2003, the electronic news source Divers reported that eleven Romani women from Frata had not been able to submit their applications for the birth allowance due to the actions of Ms L.Ş. Divers quoted Ms L.Ş., who stated "I think this is the situation with Roma in the whole county. The child is today with one parent, tomorrow with another. Today they are together, tomorrow they are separate." On April 17, 2003, Ms Georgeta Moldovan, Director for Social Assistance from the General Directorate for Work and Social Solidarity in Cluj, visited Frata and informed eleven Romani women that they had lost the opportunity to receive the birth allowance because they had missed the six-month deadline after Ms L.Ş. refused to give them the allowance, according to Divers. Ms Moldovan reportedly stated that the only chance for the woman to reclaim the lost allowance would be to sue Ms L.Ş. personally. On July 8, 2003, the ERRC took over legal representation, in partnership with local lawyer Ms Livia Labo, of Ms Boroş and nine other Romani women similarly obstructed from applying for the birth allowance by Ms L.Ş. - Ms Rada Rostas, Ms Anişoara Moldovan, Ms Rita Moldovan, Ms Rita Ciurar, Ms Victoria Negrea, Ms Didica Moldovan, Ms Eleonora Rostas, Ms Julieta Lăcătuş and Ms Dorina Rostas. On behalf of Ms Boroş, Ms R.Moldovan, Ms Ciurar, Ms Negrea, Ms D. Moldovan, Ms Lăcătuş and Ms D. Rostas, on July 15, 2003, the ERRC filed a racial discrimination complaint with the National Council for Combatting Discrimination (NCCD). On the same day, the ERRC also filed a complaint with the Turda County First Instance Court Prosecutor's Office, alleging violations of Articles 246 (abuse against personal interests) and 247 (abusively restraining an individual's rights) of the Romanian Criminal Code. Article 9 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which Romania ratified in 1974, guarantees the right of all persons to social security.

(Divers, ERRC)


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