Roma Women Balance Tradition With Feminist Values

The Establishment
The Establishment
Published in
8 min readAug 9, 2016

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By Harriet Paintin & Hannah Kirmes-Daly

“A gypsy woman’s life is always hard,” Clara tells us. “Men give the orders and women put this into practice.”

Clara and her younger sister Perty belong to the Gabor family, a highly esteemed clan within the wider Roma community. In the face of systematic and social discrimination, many families in Romania have lost or deny their Roma identity, but the Gabor community has fiercely guarded its culture and traditions in the face of prolonged attempts of assimilation into mainstream European society. This is immediately and strikingly evident in their long, pleated, elaborately patterned skirts and Perty’s waist-length braids with ribbon woven in. As a married woman (albeit divorced), Clara wears more somber colors, with her hair braided at the base of her neck and covered in a patterned headscarf.

Clara and Perty’s family has long given up the nomadic lifestyle, and the Gabors have been settled in Valenii, a village in Transylvania, for as long as anyone can remember. Their father, highly respected in the village community, upholds the traditional family profession of metalwork while at the same time working as a community police officer. We spent a week with this family, and with Clara and Perty we learned about the complicated experience of being a Roma woman in 21st…

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The Establishment
The Establishment

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