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Last week, police raided a Roma (Gypsy) camp in search of illegal drugs and weapons.  But they found something that may potentially be even more horrifying--a little girl named Maria who is very likely the victim of child trafficking.  Now the Greek government is trying to find her parents

The girl answers to the name of Maria, is thought to be 4 years old, and is now being cared for by social services in Greece.

It was the girl's looks that were the first clue. She has blond hair and blue eyes, which alerted an official that she did not belong. She did not have the typical Gypsy dark hair and dark eyes.
[snip]
DNA tests proved the girl did not come from the same family as the one she was living with and members of the group are now arguing the child had been "given" to the family for care and that she had been treated well.

Others have taken a dimmer view and believed that she was stolen for resale, or perhaps that she had some other value, such as a blonde child is good for street begging.

This ghastly story aired on CBS This Morning earlier today.  Watch here.

The man and woman with whom this girl was found are due to appear in court today on charges of child abduction.  Their lawyer claims that the child was adopted, but "in a way non-legal."  But according to the BBC, this is one of many claims the couple have made that just don't add up.

The couple had registered different numbers of children with different regional family registries.

The woman claimed to have given birth to six children within a 10-month period.

When questioned about how they came to have Maria, the couple gave "constantly changing claims," Thessalia Province Police Director Vassilis Halatsis said.

"The girl might have been abducted from a hospital, or given up by an unmarried mother," the officer said.

"So far we do not have a declared disappearance of a child of this age in Greece. Through Interpol, we will request assistance from the other European countries."

The couple and their neighbors say Maria was treated very well, and was doted on more than the couple's biological children.  But according to Kostas Yannopoulos, who heads the charity caring for her, The Smile of the Child, Maria seemed frightened and neglected when she first arrived, but has become much more relaxed in the last week as her health has improved.  Yannopooulos thinks the couple used Maria to beg in the streets.  A spokesman for the charity told CNN that Maria was living in squalid conditions when they took her in.

The girl looks like she's of northern or eastern European descent.  According to the couple's lawyer, she's originally from Bulgaria.  However, the Smile of the Child has gotten thousands of calls from around the world since posting a picture of her online, including at least four from the United States.  Wherever this girl is originally from, hopefully she can be brought home safely.  And if she was indeed kidnapped, hopefully they can find the scum who are ultimately responsible for taking her.

9:56 AM PT: Wow.  It turns out that this story has been used to perpetrate longstanding stereotypes about the Roma.  I have to admit, I had no idea that a longstanding stereotype about Roma was that they tended to steal babies.  While the parents and anyone who helped kidnap this girl deserve to have the library thrown at them, the fact that this has been used to perpetrate racism is no less outrageous.

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Comment Preferences

  •  The coverage of this story (21+ / 0-)

    has been unrelentingly racist against Roma people. I take no position on the facts we don't know, but I am appalled that it has meant open season on bashing a desperately oppressed minority in Europe.

    Just saying, on Kos we can try to avoid casual anti-Ziganism, right?

  •  Not to diminish this case (13+ / 0-)

    because each of the millions of cases of human trafficking are atrocious.  But I still find it troubling that the entire world lit up over this one particular case because she was found among the Roma.  

    It will be wonderful if all the attention reunites this girl with her parents.  It's what I suspect to be the reason for all the attention that bothers me.  

    When truth is only a matter of opinion, advantage goes to the liars.

    by Sun dog on Mon Oct 21, 2013 at 08:19:51 AM PDT

  •  I hope she can be united with her family (6+ / 0-)

    ...that is, if she really wasn't sold by them.  This story is getting tons of coverage because it involves a cute, blonde girl and this is what feeds the imagination of the press.  

    It's the Supreme Court, stupid!

    by Radiowalla on Mon Oct 21, 2013 at 08:20:30 AM PDT

    •  That, and the fact (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      BlackSheep1, Radiowalla

      that it's the Romani who had her.

      Still. If her ersatz parents kidnapped her, fuck them.

      "Much of movement conservatism is a con and the base is the marks." -- Chris Hayes

      by raptavio on Mon Oct 21, 2013 at 08:22:57 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  By that logic (0+ / 0-)

        white people are predisposed to serial killers.

        •  Errr, to BE serial killers (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          BlackSheep1

          for example, Ted Bundy and Charles Manson and George Armstrong Custer and Adolph Hitler all were white men.

          •  No, you misunderstand me. (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            political mutt, Radiowalla, lgmcp

            I'm saying the media focused on it because those who had her were Romani.

            I'm saying nothing like what you're suggesting.

            "Much of movement conservatism is a con and the base is the marks." -- Chris Hayes

            by raptavio on Mon Oct 21, 2013 at 08:37:07 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Yep, RocketJS, and so were (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            dougymi

            both Presidents Bush, both Presidents Roosevelt, Stalin, and Mussolini. Your point?

            We know that millions died in China under Mao.
            We know that the Japanese soldiery of World War II killed hundreds of thousands of Asians -- and that's not including discussion of POWs of American, Australian or other Allied origins.
            We know that in Darfur hundreds of thousands of black women and children and men were killed by other black men, and that the Hutu/Tutse genocides were not carried out by IndoEuropeans.
            What happened in the Americas during the "sea to shining sea" eras (North and South America both being "conquered" by the "more civilized" invaders from Spain, France, Portugal, and Great Britain, among other greedy European nations) is well-documented; so is slavery. But those considerations are not garden-variety "mass murderers" like, say, Dahmer or Gacy or Sheridan or Sherman (that march to the sea was nothing short of a war crime).
            So if you want to back down from that generalization about white people being the most murderous ... might be a good idea, if you want to talk serial killers / mass murderers ... well, since 1950 there's this list at Wikipedia:

            Luis Garavito  Colombia, 1990s; known victims: 138. Suspected victims: 172–400+     Child-murderer, torture-killer, and rapist known as "La Bestia" ("The Beast"). Convicted of killing 138 victims but suspected of murdering over 400 victims, mostly street children. Garavito served one of his sentences, but there are another 20 prosecutions against him preventing his release. Additionally, the Ley de Infancia y Adolescencia eliminates the possibility of his release.

            Pedro López,  Colombia  Ecuador  Peru     1969 to 1980     110     310–350+     Child-murderer and rapist, known as "The Monster of the Andes". Targeted young girls, between the ages of 8 and 12. Arrested in 1980 and convicted in 1983 of killing 110 young girls but confessed to killing 300, exact total unknown. Though he may be the most prolific serial killer of the 20th century, he was released in 1998. Current whereabouts unknown.[2]

            Daniel Camargo, Colombia  Ecuador  1974 to 1986     72     150     Child-murderer, believed to have possibly raped and killed over 150 victims, primarily young virgin girls. Confessed to killing 72 victims and incarcerated with Pedro Alonso Lopez. Considered to be intelligent and believed to have been motivated to kill from his stepmother abusing him as a child. He strangled young girls in Colombia and was arrested, but he escaped from prison and he started killing in Ecuador; rearrested in 1989, he was killed in jail.[3]

            Pedro Rodrigues Filho,  Brazil  1967 to 2003     71, 100+     Convicted and sentenced to 128 years, but the maximum one can serve in Brazil is 30 years. He has claimed to have killed over 100 victims, 47 of them inmates. He also killed his father and ate a piece of his heart. He killed his first two victims at the age of 14; he was first arrested in 1973.

            Yang Xinhai      China     2000 to 2003     67
            Would enter victims' homes at night and kill everyone with axes, meat cleavers, hammers, and shovels.
            Executed in February 2004. Known as the "Monster Killer".[4]

            Andrei Chikatilo  Soviet Union (Russia)     1978-1990     53     56     Known as Butcher of Rostov, The Red Ripper or The Rostov Ripper. Convicted of the murder of 53 women and children between 1978 and 1990. Executed in 1994. Another man was previously convicted and executed for his crimes.[5]

            Anatoly Onoprienko  Soviet Union  Ukraine 1989-1996     52     52+
            Known as "The Beast of Ukraine", "The Terminator" and "Citizen O". Convicted of the murders of 9 people in 1989 and 43 people in 1995–1996.
            Sentenced to death, later commuted to life. Traveled through Europe illegally from 1990 to 1995; whether he killed during this time is unknown.[5]

            Gary Ridgway  US  1982-- 2000  49     71–90+
            Truck painter who confessed to killing 71 women. The United States' most prolific serial killer; also known as The Green River Killer.
            He almost exclusively targeted sex workers from Seattle. Once there, he would proposition a prostitute, drive to the banks of the Green River, and strangle her to death. After murdering his victim he would dump her body near the nearby water. Suspected of killing over 90 victims, confessed to 71, convicted of 49.[6]

            Alexander Pichushkin  Russia 1992- 2006     48     60

            Known as the Chessboard Killer. Convicted of murdering 48 victims and suspected of killing 60. Claimed to have murdered 62 people, because he didn't know that two of his victims had survived; stated goal of becoming Russia's most prolific serial killer.[7]

            Ahmad Suradji      Indonesia     1986--1997     42     70–80+     Convicted of strangling at least 42 women and girls in a series of ritual slayings he believed would give him magical powers. Executed by firing squad on 11 July 2008.

            Moses Sithole,  S. Africa 1994--1995  38    38+    
            Preyed on unemployed women, posing as a businessman and luring his victims with the prospects of a job, before leading them to an isolated place, where he raped, tortured, and murdered them. Sentenced to 2410 years imprisonment with a non-parole period of
            930 years. Known as South Africa's Ted Bundy.[8]

            Serhiy Tkach  Soviet Union/ Ukraine 1984--2005 36     80–100
            A former Ukrainian police criminal investigator, suffocated girls aged between 8 and 18 and performed sexual acts on their bodies after they were dead. Claims to have killed 100.

            Gennady Mikhasevich,  Soviet Union /Belarus 1971--1985  36  36-55
                 Strangled females. Besides killing, he robbed his victims of money and valuable items (that he would sometimes give to his wife as a gift).[9]

            Ted Bundy      United States     1974 to 1978     35     36+     America's first "post-modern" serial killer due to his charisma and good looks. Bundy officially confessed to 30 homicides, but has confessed to killing 35–36 women in the past, and some estimates run upwards of 100 or more. Infamous for escaping from prison twice and murdering multiple victims in one day; sometimes abducting women from the same location within hours of one another.[10] He was executed in the electric chair in 1989.[11][12]

            John Wayne Gacy      United States     1972 to 1978     33     34+
                Known to have murdered a minimum of 33 teenage boys and young men between 1972 and 1978, 26 of whom he buried in the crawl space of his Chicago home. Gacy was known as the "Killer Clown" due to the fact he often entertained children at social events dressed in a self devised clown costume. Gacy was executed in 1994.[13]

            Ramadan Abdel Rehim Mansour      Egypt 1999--2006     32     32+     Gang leader known as al-Tourbini ("The Express Train"). Raped and tortured homeless children, mostly boys aged 10 to 14 years old, aboard the trains between Cairo, Alexandria, Qalyoubeya and Beni Sueif. The victims were usually thrown off the moving train when they were dead or in agony; other times they were thrown into the Nile or buried alive.

            LBJ, Van Cliburn, Ike, Wendy Davis, Lady Bird, Ann Richards, Barbara Jordan, Molly Ivins, Sully Sullenburger, Drew Brees: Texas is NO Bush League!

            by BlackSheep1 on Mon Oct 21, 2013 at 09:13:01 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  They are, although the likes of (0+ / 0-)

          Wayne Williams,  John Allen Muhammad, and Aaron Alexis are doing what they can to change that ugly stereotype.

          On the lighter side, what did the detective say after finding a body in a bathtub filled with milk and sliced bananas?

          "looks like the work of a cereal killer . .. . ."

      •  Because you see (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Batya the Toon, chimene

        It isn't "the Romani" who "kidnapped" anyone.  No more than it was "the whites" who are responsible collectively for  Ted Bundy, or predisposed by virtue of genetic heritage to some specific form of criminality.

        The children-stealing smear has been used against every minority group, including in the US against Indians, African Americans, Chinese, and Jews. It's the oldest dirty smear in the racist play book.

    •  same reason we always get endless "news" stories (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      political mutt, darlalalala

      about attractive, blonde, blue-eyed white sorority girls getting kidnapped in the Philippines.

      If you're darker-skinned, the media reacts to your being kidnapped (or worse) with a great big yawn. Especially if the reason bad shit happened to you had to do with the economic apartheid and mass imprisonment this country systematically practices in lieu of Jim Crow and lynchings.

      "In America, the law is king." --Thomas Paine

      by limpidglass on Mon Oct 21, 2013 at 08:23:47 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  As a once girl-child with blond hair (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      bobtmn, misslegalbeagle

      I shudder to think that my kids might be ignored for being blond, based on some desire to create equality in abduction cases.

      I have no prejudice against Gypsies, but I do have a problem with human trafficking, baby selling and child abduction.

      I don't hold this one case against all other Gypsies everywhere, but taking children is wrong, selling children is wrong, etc., Whether he parents sold her or someone else did, or if she were just abducted or even just found.

      Keeping a child not your own without going through official channels is also wrong.

      This is a human life here under that blond hair. Since when did blond kids deserve to be ignored because of biased expressed by adults they might never know.

      Would you leave her there because of her blond hair, if someone hadn't made a stink? What would you say to her if she escaped or other wise confronted you on the truth 10 or 20 years later?

      If you want to erase the bias then create a category of lost children or abducted children and pressure the press to cover them all as a separate discipline.

      But don't take it out on blond kids. That is an accident of birth, a genetic phenotype and she is no more responsible for her hair and eye coloring than any other child.

      Gentlemen, congratulations. You're everything we've come to expect from years of government training (Zed, MIB).

      by GreenMother on Mon Oct 21, 2013 at 10:49:46 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Where's the worldwide effort to free Greece (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    limpidglass, jan4insight, BlackSheep1

    from its kidnapping by the troika.  And the millions of unemployed victims as a result?

    "When dealing with terrorism, civil and human rights are not applicable." Egyptian military spokesman.

    by Paleo on Mon Oct 21, 2013 at 08:27:52 AM PDT

  •  Good to Hear (3+ / 0-)

    That the child is being cared for ... I hope the other children that this family "adopted" also receive similar care.

    Child abduction is always a tragedy. In the US, most children are taken away by a family member -- often a non-custodial parent -- so this sort of stranger abduction is thankfully very, very rare.

    News coverage is of course sensational. I'd like to attribute it to "racism" or "blonde child syndrome," but the fact is that the media now sensationalizes every story to drive advertising revenue.

    These are just two angles of many used by the media to achieve their revenue targets.

    "I'll believe that corporations are people when I see Rick Perry execute one."

    by bink on Mon Oct 21, 2013 at 08:38:56 AM PDT

  •  This story is rife with symbolism and goes (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Diana in NoVa

    deep into the heart of our imagination.  Doesn't it sound just like a Grimms' fairy tale?  

    I think that's part of the fascination in addition to what I mentioned upthread about the child being white and blonde and female.

    It's the Supreme Court, stupid!

    by Radiowalla on Mon Oct 21, 2013 at 09:13:03 AM PDT

  •  "Stolen away by the gypsies" has been the basis (4+ / 0-)

    of many a fairy tale, I'm sure.

    On a more cheerful note, in favor of the Rom, there's a folk tale about a lady who left behind her fine silks and ran away with the "Raggle-taggle gysies-O." She ran away because she thought it better to be free, sleeping in a cold field with the rest of the Rom, than to be a high-born lady in a castle, subject to a million societal expectations and constraints, 24/7.

    My daughter and I love that story. And I hope the little girl goes on to have a happy life somewhere.  We know nothing of her real parents.  One hears such awful things, such as people selling their girl children because girls aren't "valuable."

    "Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

    by Diana in NoVa on Mon Oct 21, 2013 at 09:38:35 AM PDT

  •  Telegenic blond blue-eyed female victims (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Slightly Wobbly, chimene

    attract attention of media in a way that young girls/women of color do not. Surely, child trafficking must be investigated and stopped. No dispute.

    But this world wide search for the birth family doesn't happen equally for child victims from all races and cultures.

    Yes there is bias against the Roma. But there is a strong bias FOR the fates of attractive white females.

  •  Ultimately, I hope that if a child has (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    terrypinder, raboof

    wrongly been taken from his/her parents, they will be reunited with them.

    But it bothers me that 1.) the media is obsessed with pointing out that she was with a Roma family, perpetuating negative stereotypes and seemingly gleefully so and 2.) would the media coverage be what it is if this child wasn't blonde haired and blue eyed?

    Would this be less of  a media frenzy if the child was other than blonde haired blue eyed and otherwise didn't fit the Roma ethnic demographic? Rhetorical question because sadly, we know the answer is yes.

    We view "The Handmaid's Tale" as cautionary. The GOP views it as an instruction book.

    by Vita Brevis on Mon Oct 21, 2013 at 09:45:06 AM PDT

  •  When I was kid in Germany (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    GreenMother, darlalalala, chimene

    my uncle threatened to sell me to the Gypsies for not eating the red cabbage on my plate.  I called his bluff, and was not sold.

  •  roma=europe's MOST hated minority (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    marsanges, chimene, ER Doc

    you are aware perhaps that the rom were enslaved for centuries in europe? that 50% of the population was incinerated during WW II? that the deep fear and prejudice has NEVER ever stopped? that right now france is deporting thousands of rom--illegally? and the general populace across europe thinks that's fine
    because gypsies are evil...

    child trafficking is vile. but THIS instance is really all about fueling the fires of broad anti-rom sentiment at a time when rom are being brutalized across europe.

    •  When we were in Ukraine in August, the 22-year-old (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      old wobbly

      University student we were visiting told us in all sincerity that the Roma woman begging on the street would hypnotize us & take all our money if we looked in the eyes. She was actually afraid of the Roma woman. This was apparently a lesson our friend had learned from her mother.

      -7.25, -6.26

      We are men of action; lies do not become us.

      by ER Doc on Mon Oct 21, 2013 at 03:36:29 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Look at her braids. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    chimene, misslegalbeagle

    about 4 inches of hair has clearly been dyed a medium brown. which to me is evidence that when she was taken, that her hair was dyed to mask her identity and to make her look more Gypsy and less Scandinavian (for lack of a better term).

    I am just glad they found this child--were they going to sell her? And to whom and for what purpose?

    And how many other children were taken and then transferred to someone else?

    Gentlemen, congratulations. You're everything we've come to expect from years of government training (Zed, MIB).

    by GreenMother on Mon Oct 21, 2013 at 10:41:34 AM PDT

  •  i find it fascinating that this is a huge headline (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    old wobbly, raboof, terrypinder, jayden

    story all over the anglophone world, but that the millions of other instances of child trafficking, if mentioned at all, are discussed in the abstract and aggregate, and never with this sort of focus on the individual. the fact that the reporting always stresses the blond hair and the blue eyes is especially striking.

  •  Sure, the media coverage is pretty poor (0+ / 0-)

    And others are right about the historical and current treatment of the Roma in Europe. And that little is generally known in America about all of it. That said, there's still some dark humor of hearing the story and thinking "Hey, an actual example of a child being stolen by Gypsies." It's a stereotype come to life.

    Was there any complaining about the Romani subplot in Fox's The Finder or was the viewership too low? I rather liked the show but didn't care for the subplot.

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