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Last Updated: Tuesday, 1 June, 2004, 14:23 GMT 15:23 UK
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World Weddings: Gypsy Child Brides was broadcast in the UK on BBC Two at 2200 BST on Wednesday, 2 June, 2004.

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I am Romanian and I know more about gypsy customs and savage traditions than your broadcast insinuated. What I do not understand is the exaggerated compassion for them with regard to the poor conditions some of the gypsies live in. Those are the exact same conditions that millions of other Romanians live in too.
Bogdan Gavriliu, The Netherlands

Your programme last night asserted, rather than showed, that gypsy women are unhappy with their marriage customs. Actually most of those you featured seemed happy enough with them to me.
Patrick Hanley, Isle of Canna

While we should respect tradition, European society has moved on
John Clements, UK

It is all very well interviewing gypsy women to ask their views, but in a culture so dominated by men, what opportunity is there currently for women to do anything other than conform? How else can their position in society improve, other than through intervention by some external authority, Romanian or EU?
Rob Ackrill, UK

When you are being mistreated like the gypsies, it's only natural they stick together and preserve their traditions. We choose to make the changes based on better knowledge, understanding and appreciation of other countries, people, and cultures. So, if the gypsies are better treated, educated and respected, they would be more aware too.
Anan, Birmingham

While we should respect tradition, European society has moved on. By enslaving their women and denying their children an education, the Romany culture will inevitably find itself in terminal decline. Adapt and survive has always been the way that human civilisation has progressed and the gypsies are no different.
John Clements, UK

I did watch the programme and felt my jaw drop many times. I hope Romania is forbidden entry into the EU until they address this inbalance in cultural norms.
Trina, UK

When a bride's fathers pays for a white wedding is he paying to get rid of his daughter?
L. Lee, London

When I first watched the programme I was slightly concerned with the lack of comparison and balance. It failed to point out that these practices are not common to Romany worldwide. We British Romany do not practice in anything like the same way, but then, we have had it easy in comparison to the Romany of Eastern Europe. They have been denied the opportunity to adapt and integrate like we have.
Lee Nethersole, Chelmsford

While I respect any nation's traditions, they should wake up to the 21st Century, where human and individual rights exist and slavery has long been abolished. Fancy having the wife put your socks on every day. No wonder the men are conveniently sticking to their tradition.
H J Henry, Bedfordshire

It isn't culture. It isn't race. It isn't something that is to be preserved. It is vile and horrible.
Frances Inglis, England

How much do you think it costs to host a Roma wedding? Regina's not being sold! When a bride's fathers pays for a white wedding is he paying to get rid of his daughter?
L Lee, London

This issue is not an easy one to address. On the one hand, the women's lack of rights is truly disheartening. On the other hand, you have to look at this through a culturally relative perspective. Gypsies have worked hard to preserve their culture, and if they are so proud of it then who are WE to tell them that they are wrong?
Tanya , USA

Westerners need to stop trying to cram their culture and values down everybody else's throats
Erick, USA
I thought that open slave trading died out centuries ago. It's quite upsetting to discover that young girls are being bought and sold into a lifetime of subjugation and servitude. Forget the modern EU, these customs have no place anywhere.
Craig Haffey, UK

It is very unlikely that something will be done about this. I may be rather pessimistic but I use to live in Romania and the opinion there of gypsies is not nice. It is as if they are illegal immigrants - there is a lot of hatred towards them. I feel the Romanian Government will either continue to cover it up or they will pretend it has stopped happening. It is possibly a no-win situation.
Christopher Wyatt, UK

Human welfare should always take precedence. When are people going to realise that this is barbaric and out-of-date behaviour? I am anything but feminist but this is not only advocating semi-slavery of women, but child abuse as well. We wouldn't stand for it in Britain - why do we let others get away with it under the protection of "ancient customs"? We should all wise up before it is too late and before we have to pay a price we cannot afford.
Francesca , UK

Leave the gypsies alone! Westerners need to stop trying to cram their culture and values down everybody else's throats.
Erick, USA

I am disgusted at the way the girls are treated. I am only grateful that the rest of Europe doesn't live that way.
Smee, UK

Tradition and custom must always be open to examination
Kristine Carroll, USA
I found this programme very interesting, but felt very uncomfortable as "we" waited along with the family to see if the marriage was consummated. I very nearly switched off. It felt voyeuristic, as though more pressure was being put on the youngsters involved, and that the viewer, by watching, was condoning the action of consummation. I do not condone the marriage and "slavery" (as the leader of the gypsies termed it) of young girls and women.
J Ward, UK

Tradition and custom must always be open to examination. Foot binding, female excision and arranged marriages involving children share common roots. The vast chasm between self-determination and the historical roles of women must be bridged by a contemporary standard. Girls deserve equal opportunity and education.
Kristine Carroll, USA

This is absolutely brutal torture towards children. I cannot imagine that in this world people are selling their children in the name of marriage.
Mohammed Shahidul Islam, UK

While I understand that tradition and customs are important, the marriage of "child brides" is no more than blatant child abuse (in the eyes of the law at the very least). Traditions in many cultures and countries have evolved over time to accommodate the growth of the modern world; it is about time that the gypsies played their part. Have they ever considered that by changing this tradition, they may face less abuse and racism from their countrymen?
Dee, UK

Once again, people will condemn the notion of arranged marriages, despite the fact that statistics show these types of marriages are more successful than so-called "love matches". Yes, the girls are young, but there are plenty of other cultures that believe in the child bride ideal - this is no better or worse.
Leon, Wales

In a word, utterly barbaric. Back to the dark ages!
P W Sidebottom, Great Britain

I think the gypsy customs are part of our world heritage, the same way as the customs of Islam, Hinduism, Christianity, or other cultures. Yes, they should have a place in the "modern" Europe - what is "modern" and what is not? How do you quantify this? Is it based on what a stranger thinks as good for a certain culture, or based on the individuals of that culture themselves? In what way are the Catholic customs more "modern" than the gypsy ones? In what way are other customs of the world we are used to more "modern" than those of those cultures we do not understand?
Ioana Parry, UK

The Roma of eastern and central Europe have been excluded for so long that they exclude themselves
Lewis Kerr, Cambridgeshire
When I first saw the piece in the Radio Times about this custom I was intrigued to learn more as I am getting married next year (of my own free will). Having watched this documentary I am horrified that this is still going on in 2004. The Romany men seem to have it all their own way as they do none of the work but collect all the glory. I just hope that change does come and sooner than all the Romany men would like.
Joanna Pycock, Kent

As a 15-year-old, I was shocked when I saw Regina being told to prove herself in that way. If I was being sold by my parents and being humiliated like she was, I would never live down my embarrassment. Poor girls, they must hate life.
Amber Chapell, UK

Every culture has its own customs which may seem completely wrong if one is not part of that culture. However inappropriate or morally wrong these may seem, one cannot make judgements. However, Romany customs have no connection whatsoever with Romanian ones. The local gypsy issue is much more complicated than it seems on the surface, and I know that because I've experienced it in Romania.
Sorina B, UK

I found the programme an eye-opener. How sad that these children have to endure so much pain. I do hope something can be done.
Claudia Clarke, England

The Roma of eastern and central Europe have been excluded for so long that they exclude themselves from a society which clearly doesn't want them. And so they resort to "traditions" to maintain their separate identity. While Roma families may withdraw young girls from education, Roma children are generally excluded from mainstream education by the majority communities anyway. Integration will be difficult, but it is not helped by highlighting unacceptable practices without considering the deeper problems.
Lewis Kerr, Cambridgeshire

I watched the programme about Gypsy Child Brides with horror. How can these achingly misplaced people expect anyone in the Western world to accept their culture when they treat women as mere slaves and sell their own daughters? The parade in the streets with the stained nightdress was sickening. This has nothing to do with culture but purely an excuse for the men of this race to dominate their women. I hope this programme has now highlighted child brides and female abuse enough for something positive to be done to help these wretched women.
Susan Linton, Kent

Gypsy child brides
30 May 04 |  This World


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