Spanish shock as Romanian girl of ten gives birth in Andalucía

3 Nov

Shockwaves were sent through the Spanish community today after it was revealed that a ten-year-old Romanian girl has given birth in Andalucía. Elena, dubbed ‘la niña-madre’ or child-mother in the press, lives with her mother, Olimpia, and other relatives in a community of Romanian gypsies in the Andalucian village of Lebrija.

But today the Spanish national El Mundo revealed that the child only arrived to stay with her mother in Spain three weeks ago and did so expressly to give birth last week with the help of Spanish healthcare.

Lebrija, Andalucia, where the 10-year-old stayed with family

The birth has not only offended the morality of conservative Andalucians but it has questioned the integration of the Romanian community in Spain and the nature of the welfare state provided by Zapatero’s Socialist party, PSOE. In a region of Spain partly characterised by an ageing population and a devout faith in Catholicism, the pregnancy of a ten-year-old girl has produced passionate censure.

Readers’ comments on the website of the local newspaper, El Diario de Jerez, range from criticising the child’s parents to the PSOE’s liberalism for welcoming Romanians to Spain. Some express their support for French President Sarkozy whose decision to extradite the Romanian community from France recently made headlines.

One reader calls for ‘Expusión (sic) inmediata’, or immediate expulsion, of the child in question but also of the Romanian community. “Carcel para los padres y orden de expulsión para la adolescente-no niña como han hecho creer a los medicos. Largando ya tardan en salir de este pais.” (“Prison for the parents and an expulsion order for the teenager- not a child as she had doctors believe. It’s about time they cleared out of this country.”)

Another reader, supposedly a supporter of the conservative Partido Popular, leaves a comment entitled PSOE NUNCA MAS, or no more PSOE, in which they identify the family as “GENTE VAGA Y DE MUY MALA CALAÑA”. (“lazy people of poor character.”)

In a case of cultural misunderstanding, the child’s mother Olimpia, who has become a grandmother before turning 30, has expressed surprise at the level of interest in her daughter’s pregnancy, saying: “This is normal among us. It’s a blessing not a scandal. We get married at this age in Romania.” The baby’s father, also a minor at 13, remains in Romania.

The Romanian population in Spain stands at 829,715, just under 15% of the population, according to the National Institute of Statistics. The country is attractive to Romanian immigrants for its linguistic similarities and Latin identity as well as higher wages. However, at a time when the unemployment rate is over 20% at 4.09 million and continues to increase, competition for jobs plays a strong factor in Spanish resentment of the Romanian community.

Such tension is highlighted in the comment left by ‘Doctor Niquete’ on El Diario de Jerez website: “Cuantas parejas españolas no tienen hijos [porque] no pueden mantenerlos?. . . Muchas. Y estos extranjeros pariendo irresponsablemente como conejos [porque] ya nos los mantendràn los “españolitos” con sus impuestos. Asì nos va.” (How many Spanish couples do not have children because they cannot afford them? Many. And these foreigners are breeding irresponsibly like rabbits because we, the dependable Spanish, will support them with our taxes. That’s how it is.”)

Social services are in contact with the child’s family to check on her health and that of her baby girl, Nicoleta. If they are satisfied that the pair are well cared for at home, they will continue to live in Lebrija and may be eligible for state benefits, much to the dislike of some members of the community.

Image: Wikimedia

For more photos: Diario de Jerez

For video: El Mundo

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2 Responses to “Spanish shock as Romanian girl of ten gives birth in Andalucía”

  1. Catherine Wylie November 3, 2010 at 8:35 pm #

    It’s wrong to negatively judge cultures that aren’t our own, but surely it’s questionable when this little girl’s mother was pictured smiling outside her home in Spain when her ten-year-old daughter has just given birth.

    The majority of people are bound to condemn the notion of a ten-year-old child giving birth, and to think that this is some how the norm is very worrying.

    This baby has parents that are aged 10 and 13, and whilst the world is diverse and full of many different ways of life, it’s sad to think that this baby will grow up and probably find itself in the same position as its mother.

    It’s a tough one to call regarding whether the baby should be taken into care.

    There should definitely be an investigation.

    • katielinsell November 3, 2010 at 8:59 pm #

      Well said Catherine. But even if the baby doesn’t grow up to follow her mother’s example then she will still feel the weight of public opinion if they stay in this tiny Andalucian town. The birth in itself is quite shocking but I was more surprised by the amount of xenophobic comments it aroused. Plus it seems the girl came over to Spain with the intention of somewhat exploiting the Spanish health service and, if they stay, she may well receive benefits too. Bit tricky when you consider the number of Spaniards struggling to find jobs and also in need of benefit…

      Other opinions?

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