A young woman has denounced before the UN that she was discriminated against by the guards of a shopping center in Madrid when accuse her of stealing a ball “for being a gypsy”reported this Thursday the Fundación Secretariado Gitano, which supports this woman in her international claim.
Specifically, Jennifer Muñoz Vázquez, a young Roma woman convicted of committing a theft of a toy valued at less than 7 euros, despite having proposed two pieces of evidence in the trial that would have proven his innocencehas presented today a communication to raise her case before the Committee for the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, a body of the United Nations system in charge of ensuring compliance with the Convention on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women (CEDAW).
The events occurred in December 2019, when Jennifer went to a Vallecas hypermarket with her sister-in-law and her baby. She was intercepted by the security guard, who claimed that the toy her baby was carrying, valued at 6.90 euros, was stolen. The young woman heard how the security guard said to his companion: “Since they are gypsies, how can they not steal!”
Actually, the toy had been given to him at the opening of a toy store days before and also they had not even gone through the hypermarket toy store that day, they point out from the Foundation.
Despite the young woman’s explanations, The guard kept her in the security room for more than an hour and a half, with her baby, cold and unable to feed him or change his diaper, until the police arrived..
When the agents arrived, they opened a report, based solely on the testimony of the security personnel and without taking into account the explanations of the young woman, who asked them to see the security cameras, as proof that she had not gone through the toy store . He left there with a report to present himself for a quick trial for a crime of theft.
Later, the young woman went to the toy store where the toy had been given to her and spoke with the clerk, who offered to testify on his behalf and called the head of security at the hypermarket to confirm that he had given him the toy. The head of security sent the woman to the police station, where she appeared to report the facts and state that she had a witness, to which the agents replied that she would have to tell the judge, who would be the one who would assess .
The following day, a quick trial was held for a minor crime of theft, in which only the security guard testified, He accused her despite having knowledge, because the store clerk himself had confirmed it, that the toy was a gift.
Despite the fact that she asked the judge (and this appears in the video of the trial) to call the toy store clerk as a witness and to view the security cameras, which would corroborate that she did not go through the hypermarket toy store, the judge only took into account the testimony of the security guard and sentenced the young woman with a fine of 26 euros for a crime of theft, which, in addition, generates a criminal record, they criticize.
The case went to the Constitutional Court
The young woman was able to appeal the sentence with the help of the Fundación Secretariado Gitano, which decided to support the case due to “the seriousness of the violation of rights that occurred”. In the first place, she appealed to the Provincial Court against the conviction, also requesting the annulment of the proceedings, having violated the right to defense of Jenifer Muñoz.
The appeal was dismissed, so it was appealed to the Supreme Court, which dismissed it again. Finally, the Constitutional Court was resorted to, which did not admit it for processing as it was considered to lack constitutional relevance, “so now the only way to defend their rights is to go to an international body like the one offered by the CEDAW Committee”.
In the words of Selene de la Fuente, a lawyer at the Fundación Secretariado Gitano and a member of the legal team that has participated in the entire judicial process, they are “fully convinced that Mrs. Muñoz she has been given unequal and differentiated treatment due to her dual status as a woman and as a gypsya discrimination that has not been duly addressed by the Spanish courts, which forces us to go to the UN”.
“Now that International Women’s Day is going to be celebrated, I think it is important to put on the table the stereotypes and prejudices that Roma women still face and that sometimes materialize in serious violations of human rights as in this case”, has added.
FSG has highlighted that this is a clear case of intersectional discrimination at various levels, “Committed, precisely, by those who should have protected her (National Police, Investigating Judge and Prosecutor and Courts of other instances).
For this reason, they considered this case as strategic for the litigation “in order, on the one hand, to translate European and international human rights standards in terms of discrimination into Spanish jurisprudence; and, on the other, to set a precedent that grants justice not only to Jennifer, but to many other Roma women who are victims of discrimination, not only in Spain but internationally”.