Action on Roma Women's Rights in Croatia

18 January 2005

Budapest, New York: The United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) begins review of Croatia's compliance with the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.

In the run-up to today's review, the ERRC provided the Committee with a report highlighting the most pressing concerns related to Romani women's rights in Croatia and recommending Government action to address the discrimination and social exclusion of Romani women in Croatia. ERRC Women's Rights Officer Kerieva McCormick and Ms Brigita Bajric, a Romani activist from Croatia and intern at the ERRC, attended the CEDAW session and presented the ERRC's findings before the Committee.

The ERRC drew the attention of the Committee to the fact that Roma are a burdened group in Croatia, facing the stigma of anti-Romani sentiment and frequently suffering racially discriminatory treatment. Romani women in Croatia find themselves in a situation of disproportionately lowered access to rights protected under domestic and international law, and in particular under the Convention. The marginalisation of Romani women in Croatia is an example of intersectional discrimination, on the basis inter alia of gender and ethnicity.

Lack of citizenship and lack of political representation are among the major factors determining the particular vulnerability of Romani women to human rights violations. Discrimination in access to a range of social and economic rights -- most significantly education, employment and health care -- is experienced by many Romani women in Croatia -- even those who have managed to secure Croatian citizenship. Romani women are often victims of violence and abuse by public officials, especially law enforcement bodies. Domestic violence as well as other abusive practices such as child marriage contribute to the social exclusion of Romani women in Croatia.

The ERRC noted in its report that quality statistical data on Romani women's access to education, employment, health and participation in political and public life is for the most part lacking in Croatia. The Croatian government has to date failed to make public adequate statistical data on the human rights situation of Roma in Croatia, and in particular on the situation of Romani women.

The ERRC called on the Committee to urge the Croatian Government to undertake urgent measures to ensure that Romani women are not precluded from accessing fundamental rights, on an equal footing with all other women living in Croatia. The full text of ERRC submission to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against women is available on the Internet at


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