November 29, 2021

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- People think my family argues.  That's just what we are - Dagsavisen

– People think my family argues. That’s just what we are – Dagsavisen

The police and childcare must understand that we are a noisy people. Many people misunderstand us because of that.

Sunita Lakatosova (39 years old) tells Dagsavisen. At the beginning of October, the Court of Cassation upheld her because she was discriminated against by the police on the basis of her race. “Officials described her as ‘gypsy’ and made the woman’s ethnic background generally relevant, in a case that was primarily about something else,” Court writes.

Lakatosova is married and has six children. In addition, her eldest daughter has children, her mother, five brothers and three sisters often visit her.

People think my family is arguing or getting into a fight. It’s just who we are and the way we talk, she says.

One night, the police approached the door of her home in Oslo. They received letters from neighbors who thought that they saw through the window that there was a quarrel in Lakatosova’s apartment.

– It was absurd. Nothing happened, we did not get involved in a quarrel or a quarrel. I started laughing at first, saying they just had to come see. But they immediately accused me, refusing to listen to what I said, says Lakatosova.

I asked the police if they were sure they were in the right apartment, the police called the tipper boat and got confirmation of their presence. Lakatosova was threatened with a fine if the police had to return, with the message that if calm did not subside in the apartment after 9 pm, she could be reported and detained, and reported to the childcare service. Information confirmed by The Court of Cassation.

When the case was brought to court, the police acknowledged that there was no legal basis for the order, but did not agree that there had been a breach of the discrimination rules.

Lakatosova describes herself as someone who is rarely intimidated. She is used to standing up for herself and against discrimination. But this time she was afraid. I scared her that the police were very strict in front of her children.

– I am a mother of six children and I have three young men in my apartment. If they are arguing about a charger or an iPad, what should I do? They are young.

The accident made Lakatosova move from Oslo to Lorenskog.

It may be related to other issues

Lakatosova’s case is the first court of appeals to deal with discrimination in space, and it has been upheld. It may be important in similar cases in the future, according to the court.

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The decision in a case often has a significance beyond the specific case, in the sense that one can expect similar cases to have the same outcome. The decision could also change an illegal practice in general, when it becomes known to the public, the Director of the Court of Cassation, Ashan Nishantha, tells Dagsavisen.

So far, the Court of Cassation has received quite a few discrimination cases against Chambers. Since its inception in 2018, there have only been eight cases addressing this. This makes up 2.5 percent of the cases in the “alleged race discrimination” category, which totals 326 cases since 2018.

Ashan Nishantha encourages anyone who suffers discrimination to use the offer of court appeal and informs that it is free, optional if you want to hire a lawyer and that the whole process can be done digitally.

lack of knowledge

With bright red hair, Sunita Lakatosova is ready at the entrance when Dagzavisen arrives. For 12 years she worked as a bridge builder at the Roman Center for Culture and Resources in Oslo, which is part of the mission of the church in the city. Here I worked in the extension rooms.

We exist to make rooms more inclusive in public spaces and to teach them their rights. Here people gather and share experiences. There are many who need help, says Lakatosova.

She is now responsible for the café and the training of its staff. Earlier this year, the Rome Culture and Resource Center acquired a new building – a large house on the Rhine in Oslo. The house they call Romano Kher, which means Roman house.

Lakatosova eagerly drags us through the house. Along the way, I shout a few words in the language of space in Roman letters to whomever we pass. In the house they have a playroom for children, a music studio for young people and a large room with a Peter Pan theme – a magical adventure forest full of places to hide.

In the portico there is a caravan, a symbol of the journey of the Romans. The Romans in Norway finally found their place. Here they come to stay.

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– We are very proud to receive this house, says Lakatosova.

– How do you feel when you hear about the Court of Cassation?

– I feel proud. I recommend everyone to report similar incidents.

She says the police contacted Romano Kher with the aim of learning more about the Romans and their culture. Lakatosova and her colleague will give a lecture at the police.

Getting to know us takes a lot of work. But she says it was worth it.

She tests that there is a significant lack of knowledge about Roma among the Norwegian population, and believes that this leads to prejudice. Lakatosova lists the most common questions and prejudices she encounters, such as “Do you beg on the street?”.

– Then I answer them that they are also Romans, but visitors. We respect them, salute them, talk to them, they are our people and speak our language, but they do not live here, says Lakatosova.

It also tends to point out that many Gypsies in Norway were born and raised here, have children who go to school and work themselves here. She herself was born and raised in Sweden. At the age of 18, she moved to Norway and got married.

She says her children struggle a lot with the prejudices that gypsies face. They often ask her: Mom, where are we from? who are we?

– What do you answer then?

– I answer that we are Roman. We are a people spread all over the world. We don’t have a country, but we speak the same language.

A highly distinguished group

The mission of the church in the city explains that in Norway there are both Norwegian Gypsies, who have been in the country for generations and have the status of a national minority, and visit Roma, where the majority comes from Romania. Many of them travel from social distress, gross discrimination and marginalization in their home country.

Some visitation rooms provide income from street activities such as begging, bottle cheers, magazine sales or street music, and many lack permanent residence in Norway. Others are more established and have jobs and housing in Norway.

Mary Selsker is a lawyer and works in the Poor Visitors’ Section at Church City Mission. In her work, she primarily meets Gypsies who are not permanent residents of Norway.

It’s a group that suffers gross discrimination, poverty and exclusion, Selskjaer tells Dagsavisen.

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employment Favo’s study From 2019 it appears that people with a gypsy background are the group towards which most Norwegians have negative attitudes. 38 percent say they do not prefer Roma as neighbours. Selsker believes that prejudices against the Romans are so ingrained in European culture that we often do not recognize them as racist.

In recent years, questions about racism have received a lot of attention, but not much has been said about anti-gypsy racism, despite the fact that it is widespread. Alarm bells from negative and biased advertising don’t ring in the same way as it does for other minorities, says Selsker, who thinks too little is being done to counter discrimination against Roma in Norway.

Mary Selsker, a lawyer, works with poor visitors at Mission Church in the city.

unwelcome

Lakatosova has many examples where she believes the treatment she and her family received revolved around attitudes toward space as a group. A few years ago, Lakatosova and her family had to move into an apartment in Oslo. The contract was signed, but then she received a letter from the owner. He couldn’t rent it anyway, because someone on the board saw through the window that Lakatosova was a room, or “gypsy,” as the letter said. She said that the council decided not to allow the rental of “gypsies”.

Lakatosova received the letters received by the owner from the board of directors, and reported the incident.

– This was the first case I won in the Cassation Committee (What was then called the Court of Equality and Discrimination and was a forerunner of the current Court of Cassation magazine.)

It is common for Romans to be denied access to public places, says Lakatosova.

I want people to understand that we are normal people. If some Romans did something wrong, it doesn’t mean I’m like them.

Lakatosova is worried about the future of the children. You hope they don’t experience too much discrimination, and you want them to be proud of who they are and where they come from.

– If the Norwegians had seen the Romans through your eyes, what would they have seen then?

– They saw a completely different picture of us. I think they were happy, surprised and interested.

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