Roma Confront Europe's Ban on Child Marriages This past May, eight Eastern European countries joined the European Union. EU human rights law forbids child marriages. Some in the Roma communities of these countries see this as a threat. Child marriage is a tradition in their culture. Frank Browning reports for Worlds of Difference, a series on global cultural change.
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Roma Confront Europe's Ban on Child Marriages

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Roma Confront Europe's Ban on Child Marriages

Roma Confront Europe's Ban on Child Marriages

Roma Confront Europe's Ban on Child Marriages

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/3876837/3876838" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

The forbearers of the modern day Roma initially traveled west from India, driven by the Mongols across the plains of Central Asia to find refuge in what is now Eastern Europe. Sometimes known as Tsiganes, Gitans and Gypsies, the Roma today number more than 8 million — the largest minority in Europe.

They are also one of the most marginalized European minorities. The more threatened they have felt, the more strongly they have held to their traditions — among them child marriage.

Negotiations start when children are 4 or 5, and weddings take place when the girl reaches puberty. But now that practice is facing a challenge. In May, eight Eastern European countries joined the European Union in passing laws against child marriages.

Some Roma see this as a death sentence for their culture. But not Gyula and Marika VĂ¡mosi. As Frank Browning reports, their marriage began as a love story, but turned into a campaign to change the world.