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"With gypsies you tend to fall back on generalisations"

  • Sonia Cortés and Jennifer Amador are both quick to clarify that they have never felt excluded from something because they are gypsies, but they point out that the majority of comments are negative

One of the main goals of the Gyspy Secretarial Foundation is to stop stereotypes and fight against discrimination. Sonia Cortés and Jennifer Amador are both quick to clarify that they have never felt excluded from something because they are gypsies, but they point out that the majority of comments made about gypsies are negative.

There are many jokes and colloquial sayings. "I heard someone say 'She's like a gypsy', meaning dirty or scruffy, and it hurts when you hear comments like that," says Amador. "With gypsies one tends to fall back on generalisations and always be negative; the person who makes these comments risks messing up because not all gypsies can be put in the same category," continues the head of the Calí programme, who suggests its better "not to form an opinion without the facts".

"The problem of the gypsy community is not one of culture but of society; many of the families who come and ask for help do not have any problems stemming from being gypsy, but rather they have very little and are scared of being excluded from society," explains Cortés. She adds that of course not all gypsies live like this.

Much of the outside world believes that gypsy men are overly sexist and violent. "We live in Spain and share the same values as the rest of the inhabitants; this country still has sexism, and the gypsy community is of course no different, but it is also no worse than the majority of Spain. You aren't gypsy for the way you behave or dress, but for what is in your blood," explains Amador. "Some families worry that if their children study, they will lose gypsy traditions," adds Cortés, "but culture is not static, there are many positive things that can be maintained from gypsy culture, like respect and hospitality, while also allowing gypsy children to evolve and develop."