April 21, 2010

Gypsies and Travellers suffer poverty, racism, and discrimination

by Sara Levy

A Catholic anti-racism group has criticised Labour and the Conservatives for failing to address discrimination against Gypsy and Traveller Communities in their election manifestos.

The Catholic Association for Racial Justice (CARJ) said these communities suffer prejudice, discrimination, disadvantage, and lack of suitable accommodation.

Gypsies and Travellers face “severe wide-ranging and mutually reinforcing inequalities and problems, including: early death; poorer health and inadequate health care; educational under-achievement; poverty and unemployment; high suicide rates; unfair treatment by the criminal justice system; and lack of access to culturally appropriate support services for the most vulnerable,” the CARJ said in a report launched this week.

“Both the main political parties, in their recent initiatives regarding Gypsies & Travellers, have concentrated on efforts at curbing anti-social behaviour without seriously addressing the deeper issues of racism, disadvantage and the severe shortage of sites,” it added.

Overt racism towards Gypsies and Travellers is still a major problem, the report said.

Both the Labour and Tory manifestos risk fuelling this racism, CARJ said, because they focus on curbing anti-social behaviour rather than addressing the root issues of poverty, discrimination, and disadvantage.

Justice and social order “will not be accomplished by imposing punitive restrictions on extremely marginalised and vulnerable groups, without seriously addressing the causes of their marginalisation and vulnerability.” the report concluded.

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