Research Finds Racism Rife in Valleys

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), January 27, 2003 | Go to article overview

Research Finds Racism Rife in Valleys


Byline: Tony Trainor

RACIAL harassment is suffered by more than half the members of ethnic minorities living in parts of Wales, according to a new report published today.

Shocking levels of harassment and discrimination were revealed in a study of racism in the South Wales communities of Bridgend, Caerphilly, Rhondda Cynon Taff and Merthyr Tydfil.

The report Racism in the Valleys - Perception or Reality? contains the disturbing results of an investigation into the level of racial harassment suffered by people living or working in those areas.

In the first survey of its kind by the Valleys Race Equality Council (Valrec), 200 people from a variety of ethnic minorities were interviewed.

As many as 55% said they had suffered some form of racial harassment in the last two years - the most common forms were verbal abuse, property damage, threats and physical assault.

It was revealed that 39% of those interviewed had suffered racial harassment and/or discrimination at work or study.

Most people had suffered between one and 50 incidents over the last two years - some had noted 100, 200 and even 700 incidents over the same period.

Watchdogs at Valrec believe that being subjected to some kind of racist taunt or threat is part of daily life for some people.

Nearly two-thirds (65%) of those who had suffered racial harassment had lived in the area for four years or more, and seemed to believe that they were never accepted by some people in the area.

The report also notes that 49% of respondents did not report incidents of racial abuse to the police, or only sometimes reported the incidents.

They explained that they either tolerated the abuse or believed that no action would be taken anyway.

Mario Marshall, whose family has lived for the past 22 years on the Glynmil gypsy site in Merthyr Tydfil, has been the victim of a campaign of abuse and criminal damage by local youths.

He said he was not surprised to hear that more than half the people questioned by Valrec had experienced some form of racial harassment.

Following a series of incidents at the Glynmil site more than two years ago, two 18-year-olds were ordered to pay a total of pounds 250 in fines after admitting harassment and using threatening words and behaviour.

Mr Marshall said, "Racism is all around us and we get called 'dirty gypsies' or 'tramps'.

"I drive around in the family car just like any other father but children can pick me out to be a gypsy. Their mothers and fathers must be telling them, 'There's a gypsy in there' - how else would they know?

"Just like the children of white families who kept black slaves, those children grow up with the idea that other people can be treated as inferior.

"It's only lately that black people have had any rights at all and gypsies are no different. …

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