Romany female assistants of Ostrava police succeed in competition

Ostrava, 18. 5. 2005, 22:23 (CTK)

A project of police Romany female assistants, which has been implemented for several years, ended second in an international competition of social projects, one of its authors Kumar Vishwanathan told CTK today. The competition was organised by the Austrian foundation Unruhe Stiftung and was participated in by 267 projects. "We have won 10,000 euros," said Vishwanathan, from Mutual Coexistence association who has helped solve the problems of the Ostrava Romany community for several years.

Ostrava Romany female assistants help police mainly in fighting usury. They have proved themselves and further Czech towns have started to introduce them as well.
"A similar project already functions in Cheb (west Bohemia) where it focuses more on child prostitution problems. Cooperation between NGOs and police seems to have good prospects in Brno (south Moravia) and Usti nad Labem (north Bohemia)," Katerina Pospisilova from the Interior Ministry told CTK.

Ostrava police director Rostislav Pavliska said that the Romany assistants' task is "to mediate contacts between usurers' victims and the police" and that 15 cases have been solved this way.

Police officers and Romany activists say that usurers use mafia-like methods and intimidate their victims. "They do not hesitate to use violence and threaten with violence against children. The interests they demand are horrible. I know a family who borrowed 30,000 crowns and returned more than 160,000 to the usurer," Vishwanathan said.


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