Roma Feminists Navigate the Tricky Terrain of Ethnic Stereotypes

Last year, as the news broke in the Romanian media that a man who had died of AIDS had infected over 30 young women with HIV, it became clear to me that much needed to be done on sexual education in Romania. In Roma communities in particular, there is a lack of information on the taboo topics of sexuality and reproduction.
Along with other member organizations of the Coalition for Gender Equality, E-Romnja, an association that advocates for Roma women’s rights, started campaigning for mandatory sexual education at all school levels across the country. The Ministry of Health expressed its support for the initiative, while the Ministry of Education, more reluctant at first, finally announced that it would publicly consult with teachers on the issue.In the context of the coming local and national elections, we find ourselves in a challenging environment, with the very conservative—and influential—Orthodox Church campaigning against us.