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New campaign highlights prejudices of Czech public against Romani people

Brno/Prague, 31.7.2012 22:56, (ROMEA)
ilustrační foto

On Wednesday, 1 August, the organization IQ Roma servis will launch a new campaign that aims to draw attention to the continually deteriorating attitude of the Czech public toward Romani people. The project, entitled "Romani people work and want to" is continuing the theme of last year's campaign, "The Invisibles" which ran during 2011 as part of the "Ethnic Friendly Employer" project., and is responding to a situation in which Romani individuals are continually forced to face discrimination and the humiliation of being the targets of collective, negative prejudices, such as the ideas that Romani people do not work, live only on welfare, do not want to work, are not reliable workers, etc. Right-wing extremist or populist political groups have been exploiting Romani people in order to draw media attention; recent examples are the ultra-right events convened in Brno, Břeclav, Krupka, Nový Bydžov, etc.

VIDEO
Press conference

The new campaign uses jokes, paradoxes, and positive, pragmatic arguments made by capable Romani individuals. This year's campaign will be conducted through advertisements on the internet, outdoor contact events, and public transportation.

The campaign is mainly targeting residents of the Czech Republic, i.e., the broad lay public. Thanks to the project's overall marketing, the public will be familiarized with examples of good practice in majority-minority coexistence, cultural exchange and employment, with a particular emphasis on work.

"Our campaign and the choice of the target group responds to the deteriorating attitudes toward Romani people currently held by the Czech public. Employers' positions are very similar to the positions held by the general public about Romani people: Prejudice, skepticism, suspicion, and xenophobia. Even though discrimination is prohibited by law in the Czech Republic, hidden discrimination is an experience which many Romani people have encountered and are encountering more and more frequently. This fact significantly restricts any hope of the successful integration of this minority into formal and informal social ties, primarily in specific areas such as access to housing-related services and schools, which are required to serve all residents in their catchment areas. On the labor market, the chances for Romani individuals to acquire dignified employment is significantly reduced," commented Katarína Klamková, director of IQ Roma servis.

A key component of the campaign from the start will be the launch of a website, www.mypracujeme.cz, (in English, "we work"), which will be updated over time with new stories on working Romani people and will also introduce the concept and individual visuals of the campaign. Other projects are also planned to augment the campaign, such as competitions and opportunities to create your own bio and upload a photo or video documentary related to the idea of the campaign.

In addition to a website, the project will also present itself in advertisements posted throughout metro stations in Prague (from 1 - 31 August 2012 – on the A and B lines), as well as through banner ads and low-cost classified ads. The project also counts on actively presenting itself to the public through outdoor happenings and the widest possible range of one-off events. Unfortunately, we did not manage to involve Czech Television in the campaign this year, but there is still the possibility that an audiovisual recording of the campaign will be distributed. IQ Roma servis is planning to keep this campaign up long-term.

"The topic of employment, in addition to the strategically significant topic of quality education for the next generation of Romani people, is key to Romani people living dignified, sustainable lives. It is also a rather concrete topic on which to make arguments related to something Czech society is currently calling for. The campaign is not based on broad, general values," Klamková explains.

Jarmila Balážová, chair of the ROMEA civic association, which is actively collaborating on the project, underscores the need to openly communicate about the ongoing problems with respect to society's approach toward Romani people. "From our long-term activity and personal experiences, we know Romani people want jobs, but they often run up against majority-society prejudice. They often are never hired, or if they are, it takes them a long time to demonstrate that they are different from the Romani people about whom the majority society has heard for so long. This campaign wants to show that most working Romani people must a priori grapple with a handicap in the form of the abundantly nourished folk stereotypes that are broadly and endlessly disseminated about them," Balážová said.

Gwendolyn Albert, tisková zpráva, ROMEA, Press release of IQ Roma servis and ROMEA, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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