Authorities in Greece plan to send a seven year old girl seized from a Roma family to Bulgaria. Police snatched the girl, known as Maria, during a raid on a Roma community last month because she had blonde hair.
The case sparked racist scaremongering about Roma “stealing” children. In fact it shows that Roma families are more likely to have their children taken from them. Maria’s biological mother, Saska Ruseva, is Roma and lives in Bulgaria. She said she left the child with a Roma couple in Greece because she couldn’t afford to care for her.
Yet the Roma couple are in custody in Greece, charged with kidnapping. And Bulgarian police are investigating Saska and her husband on suspicion that they illegally sold Maria. Maria won’t live with her biological parents in Bulgaria as the authorities have deemed them too poor. Instead she’ll be handed over to a foster family.
Emil Todorov is director of the Children Protection Department of Bulgaria’s Agency for Social Assistance. He said social services would “work with both parents, so that they can expand their parental potential”.