The mother of a 10-year-old girl who gave birth in Spain last week says she’s baffled by the international attention her daughter is getting. The woman, identified only as Olimpia, told Spanish newspapers that Roma (known derogatorily as “gypsies”) marry young and that news of such a young mother is, back in Romania, not such a big deal.
She may be right.
The Associated Press reports that while Romanian newspapers are carrying stories of the birth, the stories are buried deep in the paper and focus mainly on the uproar in Spain and around the world.
Olimpia told reporters gathered outside her latest home in Lebrija, Spain, that arranged marriages are common in the Roma culture, especially among the Roma in Romania, where the mother and girl are from. “That’s the way we get married,” she said.
The AP explains that in Roma culture, girls who have reached puberty are often matched with older males in arrangements that function as marriage, but aren’t recognized in Romania, where girls must be 16 and have a parent’s consent to get legally married.
But it would appear this system the mother is defending doesn’t work so well. The baby’s father, a 13-year-old boy, is still in Romania, a father but not a husband. His would-have-been mother-in-law explains that, well, things didn’t work out between him and her daughter and they’re no longer “going out.”
Spanish welfare authorities are currently determining whether the family will be able to provide for the baby, a healthy newborn girl. They likely won’t be able to press charges against the baby’s father for abuse since he’s not in the country and is also a minor. Consensual sex with someone younger than 13 is against the law in Spain.
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