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October 2021

Health Place. 1998 Mar; 4(1): 45-54.

Gendered health policies and a women's movement: the Gypsy case.

Acton T, Caffrey S, Dunn S, Vinson P.

School of Social Sciences, University of Greenwich, London, UK.

Health concepts depend on socially constructed hygiene practices. Many accounts of "traditional" Gypsy hygiene make gender differentiation primary, implying that traditional health practices reinforce patriarchy and emphasizing the special needs of Gypsy women. This paper argues, however, that the position of women is contested in Romani society. Although prioritizing the more apparent health needs of women and small children appeals to health professionals, this cannot by itself create an effective critique of the health system's response to Gypsy needs. The emergence of a Gypsy women's movement has led to a new critique, and challenge to the victim image of women.


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