Brides for sale – Bulgaria's Roma marriage market | DW Documentary

DD’s you know I’m the only son in my family I will respect tradition and will most certainly marry a kolache go this is Emma kg it would be nice to be free to go out like other girls but collide she customs don’t allow that treebo deedsy a small town of a thousand inhabitants in southeast bulgaria this is where 21 year old Maria lives with her parents and two siblings Maria is aroma with very special roots she is one of some 18,000 caliche the clan of the tinsmiths Maria’s uncle mitko and aunt Rosie have come to visit with their son tani naturally they too are collide she Maria’s parents have gone to stay with relatives for a few days following the birth of a grandchild so this year she’ll be accompanied by her aunt and uncle for the biggest event in the life of a kolache girl the boccie / bride market 17 year old tini is also planning to look around for a bride at the fair Maria it is hope will catch the eye of a wealthy future husband what should I put on for Baskerville I don’t know what shoes will you be wearing no idea put the other dress on let’s have a look you had high-heeled sandals on try this dress let’s see I’m not sure perhaps that’s fine too would you rather buy something new at the market in as a novigrad yes let’s drive to azzinoth grad and have a look that’s how our traditions are every time we have to wear something new everybody is excited because of Baskerville all the girls are preparing for it in fact we look forward to it all year Maria has hardly any other chance to meet boys her parents are too afraid that she might lose her virginity then no collide she man would marry her Maria obtained her School Leaving Certificate when she was 16 not exactly commonplace for aroma for the time being her parents determine how she lives her life later those decisions will be taken by her husband we want to be modern but were not allowed to if we went to a disco without my parents knowledge and came home at or 3:00 in the morning we’d be in real trouble there would be problems my parents would shout at me for going out without permission which is forbidden they would probably throw me out are we going to the market in Assen off grad or what why is it taking you so long stop making up you’re pretty enough you’ll find a husband let’s go in times past the kolache community traveled throughout Bulgaria repairing and tin plating parts especially copper pots today many collide she have a regular job and their own house the clan are said to number around 18,000 where possible they’d like to demonstrate their relative prosperity compared with other Roma preferably in the form of a car made in Germany we collide you spread all over Bulgaria you’ll find us in every region the humble Stara Zagora Haskovo my renown vulgus sleepeth we are scattered like

scopes the collide she are open-minded with regard to modern developments for young people communicating via a smartphone or Facebook is completely normal and young women are allowed to wear what they want although this might simply be because the men’s tastes have changed I think it’s better when girls dress in the modern style they should wear dresses trendy shoes and short skirts I like it when a woman looks modern wearing rhinestones for example and the skirt should definitely be short so that I can see her legs clothes from the old days like the ones my mother wears are out of the question dresses and skirts that are extremely wide I don’t want my wife to be that old-fashioned but when it comes to choosing a partner the collide she remain ultra conservative marriages only take place within the community the men have to pay the bride’s parents a dowry of between one and ten thousand euros the prettier the girl and the better her reputation the more she costs Tanny and his parents are also choosing new clothes for the big day have a look at this what do you think Rosie do you reckon you can fit it to that you’re as wide as a barn door just look at you all the skirts here are a slim fit how are you going to get into one I don’t have any problem with modern clothes it was only maybe 10 years ago that young girls started dressing differently when we were young we didn’t wear any short pants this is how wide our skirts were this wide if I could find a tight skirt in my size I would wear it but I would feel embarrassed I wouldn’t allow her to wear it no way I’d also be embarrassed to take off my headscarf Maria has finally found her new dress it won’t be her first bride market but she has to appear in a new outfit every year as again required by tradition Hachiya bow is just a few kilometers from where Maria lives the 10 chef family are having breakfast rosie is preparing french toast teni I’m ready you can start but be careful make sure the flame isn’t too big Tanny heats up the pot with his father’s Bunsen burner from April to October family life takes place outside under the verandah the 10 chefs only use the house for sleeping the annual bride fair is now only a few days away I’ll check my phone right yes do that you know Rosie times have changed in the past we would wave to each other with a smile and say hello my love now the let just type something on this phone back then the price for a bride was still high fifteen or thirty thousand I paid thirty thousand left for Rosie white we went to her parents and I asked them if I could have her for that son we got married in 1988 and today all modern people fall in love via Facebook incredible but that’s how it is now just look what happens on this Facebook a woman already has three children but she writes to another man and then falls in love with him but his complaints fall on deaf ears tani is online round-the-clock making arrangements to meet his friends and sometimes girls who are not collide she right now he’s in touch with a young Bulgarian woman who has no idea about tannaz traditions Maj a moisture this [ __ ] we can become friendly but nothing serious can ever come of it I’m an only

son if I had two or three brothers if there were several boys in the family I could perhaps even marry the girl but I am my parents only sangwich so I will respect tradition and marry a kolache girl the Seas Emeco a jig would not let me explain if a daughter of mine wanted to marry someone from outside our clan I would do everything to prevent it irrespective of whether she were from another Roma clan or a Bulgarian much much been the messes but that’s simply the way the men of our generation are my character would never allow me to accept that I couldn’t handle it no matter how beautiful she might be if my son wanted to take just someone or other for his bride I wouldn’t permit it I don’t have any other sons and I one tradition to be upheld if we had five or six boys I could perhaps accept a woman from outside people would gossip and say MIT goes got no money Janie couldn’t find a collide she bribed or he doesn’t want to choose anyone from the clan people would find out that tinny had married an outsider and then bring it up at every opportunity Stara Zagora is a city in central bulgaria just over a tenth of its population of 140,000 are Roma as is customary they live in their own quarter on the outskirts while for some it may resemble a slum many Roma live under worse conditions but unemployment here stands at 80% located in the heart of the neighborhood is the office of the NGO world Without Borders it’s headed by gancho iliev himself aroma he and his team carry out sociological studies and propose ideas on how the minority can be helped the Roma generally don’t accept offers like housing and anonymous apartment blocks or training programs for young women ecology constitute only a fraction of the population here but a large part of Gonzo’s work focuses on this section of the Roma community the caliche are a relatively small group but one with very particular traditions they have always maintained the rigid custom of marrying only within their community it is essential for the women to enter wedlock as virgins and that has consequences unfortunately our studies have revealed a range of genetic diseases including disorders of the peripheral nervous system epilepsy and muscular dystrophy gancho is working on a project to document the state of health of Stara Zagora x’ Roma population with the assistance of two medical assistants Suez des is likewise aroma Gallo has purposely sought her help because self-assertive professional women are the exception in all Roma groups and among the caliche there are virtually none at all in our experience the caliche are the group we have the most difficulty in getting through to because they reject virtually all outside opinions I regard the way they behave towards their women as discrimination women are discriminated against first of all through their role in the family and secondly because they are unable to play an active role in society this is the 21st century in an age of advanced technology and it’s unacceptable that women should be restricted to such a degree that they lack even the basic knowledge and the simplest of skills for participating in the labor market in the case of the Roma of Stara Zagora real day-to-day problems are also an issue makeshift streets that had no planning permission so they are not connected to the water supply or sewage systems meanwhile poverty and drug abuse are fueling the spread of hepatitis AIDS and tuberculosis around 15% of Roma here suffer from one of those diseases no one has health insurance the local authorities have sent a van with medical equipment and two doctors to take blood samples gancho and his assistants encourage residents to be examined

people know them and trust them back in the small town of Hachi AVO we find mitko demonstrating the tradition which first gave the clan its name the collage II were unable to prevent the tinsmith trade from dying out today mitko is rarely asked to repair or tin plate a copper pot first of all he scrubs off soot and dirt using hydrochloric acid when we were young we repaired all sorts of things coffee pots pans and cutters we did everything by hand the machines that are around today were not available back then we did everything by hand using hammers and tongs and there was work for every one of us no matter where we came from he could also go to the market with kettles jugs and pots and were always able to sell them nowadays it’s a lot more difficult back then we used to travel from village to village I would simply go up to a house introduce myself and asked if they had any pots and pans that need repairing then I do the job there was lots of work for us today maybe three percent of my income still comes from tin smithing people have thrown away most of their copper receptacles only a few people still use copper pans and pots for making however for example we ecology are prepared to look for work say out nothing to do for five days and get into my car and drive around the villages looking for work virtually all the men amongst the collide she have had to diversify today they install guttering a job where their metalworking skills come in handy the work enables mitko to feed his family but it’s not exactly his dream job if I had enough to do as a tinsmith I certainly wouldn’t work on roofs if I were to fall off who would look after my wife and the children I wouldn’t wish a job like this on anyone Tanny is studying forestry he’d like to become a forest warden in a national park his attitude towards working on roofs is more relaxed because he’s not forced to do it I’ll decide in my own good time whether to do this all go into forestry I just want to be able to feed my family earn money and buy clothes as long as I have money coming in it doesn’t really matter what I do [Applause] the collages big day has arrived the bride market is held on a Sunday in late summer the ten chef’s family are leaving to pick up Maria to their niece then they all set off for botch Cova monastery in the Rodopi mountains 50 kilometres away the annual bride Fair is held on a parking area at the foot of the monastery an iconic site for the Bulgarian Orthodox Church but before hand everyone checks their appearance one last time this is already part of the ritual we kolache women love to makeup ever

since my grandmother’s day we’ve powdered ourselves and carefully made up to look as light-skinned as possible then we go to the gathering in Vacaville to present ourselves the most important thing is for us to be made up everyone wants a wife with a lighter complexion because that is more beautiful that is why we do it the event is now getting underway caliche are arriving from all over Bulgaria up to five thousand Roma mitko and his family enjoy a fine reputation as we can see from the way they are greeted respect is worth a lot of money tani will have to offer less for his dream bride however he has yet to find her no one knows exactly when or how the bride market originated the older folks say the tradition is at least a hundred years old but the opportunity for kolache to organize a meeting in advance is definitely of more modern origin the girls who are more to my liking haven’t arrived yet we got in touch with one another of our Facebook and they said they would be coming here so I’m still expecting someone the severity of each forum the collage bride market is a marriage of authorized flirting and speed-dating it takes place every year on the last Sunday in August the date and the venue are fixed everything else is more or less spontaneous or not the youngest of the potential brides and grooms are not even 15 years old this is the only time of the year that they are allowed to size one another up and flirt to their heart’s desire if a young man is smitten and initially that is enough he makes his dream bride’s parents and offer this is followed by lengthy negotiations only then can a wedding take place how much has he saved for her a woman asks a lot but how much is a lot the young man doesn’t want to say someone in the group wants to know the exact son one hundred euros the young man jokes only 100 euros she’s not that ugly the woman claims how much did he really offer in truth 10 thousand euros the girl I know hasn’t turned up I had actually planned to meet her here and steal her away I drove here especially in my parents Mercedes to do that but she has stayed at home why steal her couldn’t you go Jaya house and ask for her hand her parents want me to pay too much some men do indeed tried to seduce their dream bride in a car or in the forest if a girl loses her virginity to a man he gets her for next to nothing because no other man would ever marry her since Maria’s father can’t be present today mitko has assumed responsibility for ensuring she stays untouched this year the botched Koval bride market doesn’t really get going instead of the customary several thousand visitors only a few hundred Roma have turned up the rumors going around that in the neighboring village a nationalist motorcycle gang have blocked the main road that’s why there’s hardly anyone here and we’re also leaving last year the place was packed our girlfriends haven’t even turned up but Maria still has to expect an offer of marriage in the past if the offer was high enough collide you women were forced into wedlock if parents try that today they risk their daughter running away even though her life as a housewife remains pre-programmed Maria is at least allowed to choose her husband herself the rumor about the biker gang proves to be true on Facebook the news spreads like wildfire the fear is that the gang could attack the bride market as a result the event breaks up there’s been a bit of flirting but the time was too brief for serious negotiations I’ve met a few young men but a lot more haven’t turned up I really wanted to enjoy

myself today so I’m very disappointed I didn’t find any girl I liked this time there was no one that I fancied but I’ll keep on looking I’m still young I haven’t even turned 18 then I’ll find someone I’m certain of it I’m the only Son so one day I will find a pretty bride but it is not only right-wing biker gangs that threatened the bride market the biggest threat is the desire for self-determination which is spreading amongst young Roma via smartphones and Facebook another collage a tradition that is crumbling despite changing with the times you you