In Italy, Drowned Gypsy Girls: Opinion

Cal showed me this CNN article regarding a horrible incident “west of Naples” (huh?) in which Gypsy girls drowned and were taken away while sunbathers continued to stay at the beach.

Obviously, journalists and photographers on the scene have a more accurate description of the atmosphere at the beach in Torregaveta than I do, sitting here at my desk in Montpellier. And as the article states, it is true that there is a prevailing prejudice among Italians against Gypsies. But, don’t get me started on that topic – I’ll be here all day, and I have work to do.

This story reminds me of one recently told to me by my friend Sheila. She had taken her children to a nearby river for a day of fun, and a short distance away divers pulled a young man from the river who had met his death by drowning. Sheila was worried and her kids were horrified, but she kept them calm and after everything ended, they wound up having a great day.

I was reminded of this story because my first question about the drowned Gypsy girls is, what did the journalists expect people to do? Stand around and gawk at the covered bodies? Line up in a procession behind the coffins as they were taken away? Leave the beach and sit at home worrying about it? Take pictures?

And, if it was such a sensitive matter, why didn’t the police clear the area of the sunbathers?

I apologize If I’m coming across callous. I’m not sure why I have such a strong reaction to their reaction.

I can see if people were lounging around laughing at the incident, or horsing around pretending to drown i the sea while the bodies were taken away. And it’s not like no one called the authorities to take care of the situation – I mean, they weren’t sitting there looking at bloated bodies.

The two pictures accompanying the article are certainly not indicative of their opinions. The first one is of two kids sitting a short distance away – OK, I wouldn’t be sitting that close, but why weren’t the bodies cordoned off somehow? And they don’t look as if they are enjoying themselves; they look like they’re talking about what happened. And finally, they look American – so they probably took a bus there and maybe were waiting until the next bus to come. You don’t know what they’re doing, and it’s unfair to attribute an attitude to those two kids if they do not provide quotes from them as well.

In the second picture on CNN’s site, a coffin is being taken past a line of sunchairs. I see the knee of one of the sunbathers. That doesn’t support their story. If anything, it brings me back to my original opinion – that the authorities should have cleared that section of the beach.

Me? I wouldn’t leave the beach. We didn’t when I was little, and our neighbor was severely injured by a blowing beach umbrella. The beach was my respite when, after 9/11 when I was stuck in Anzio, I simply couldn’t watch another second of the horrors on my television.

I just don’t see the point of their outrage. Can someone shed some light on this matter?


18 thoughts on “In Italy, Drowned Gypsy Girls: Opinion

  1. I totally agree with MattG. Occasionally when I read an article I get the sense the journalist is attempting to twist things to fit a particular view, and while I assume this happens fairly often, sloppy writing/reporting gives it away immediately. There’s always more to the story. ALWAYS.

  2. Well people MattG said quite rightly that media twists the reality…but one thing needs to be said italians do hate Gypsy because of the way they live and because they are most of all smelly, ingnorant and dirty.prejudices round here thrives in every corner it in the culture… remember those few millions Jews? well its the same old thing repeating. now the target of public hate and fear goes to another minority unable to stand up ..this is a monoculture (catholic ) and even on zero awareness grounds everything which is non aligned simply as to go!


    • Leo, Gypsies may very well be hated in Italy. You, as an Italian should know. However, as a “monoculture” Italians are more forgiving and less prejudiced than say, the French, or the Germans, or the Irish.

      Also, has anyone ever thought that most of the beach-goers probably didn’t know the exact nature of the incident, and, more than likely thought it better not to get involved? I find that more in line with southern Italian thinking.

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  4. I forgot to say that yes,the police should have cleared the area and that maby just maby…what if they drouned bodies belonged to some local white 7 years old italian? same reaction? dont think so…having said that I havnt seen the pics and thanks for not linking them but once again there is a general feel of not wanting to come to terms that there are etnic minorities in this country and italians should make an effort to welcome “strangers” as a richnes for the country and not a threat.

    sorry for blathering about but I’m very sensible now days about this matters

    just to give you a sense of whats going on over here, a leading minister “umberto bossi” may the Skye’s drops a few tons meteorite over him,in a public discussion said : no more teachers from the south of Italy “regarded as lazy c—s” in schools of north Italy and then showed hes finger at the sound of the national anthem!!!

  5. I’m reminded of the story a couple of years ago, when some elderly people in France died during a heatwave while their relatives vacationed during the month of August. In the stories I heard, here in the US, I thought it was presented like “Evil French people go to beach, heartlessly leaving their grandparents to die.”

    I don’t know, it’s *possible* that some of the vacationers were evil people who didn’t care if grandma died, but, more likely, they weren’t expecting a heatwave, and had no reason to think that their relatives were in danger.

    Likewise, *maybe* the people on the beach were heartless bigots. Or maybe not. There’s a ton of spin and very little useful detail. I won’t dispute what leo says. There may be terrible prejudice against gypsies in Italy. But, I’m not sure the story supports that idea.

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  7. Hello again
    I thought I replay to Susan,yes you are totally right the story does not support the idea,what i was trying to say is that although there are people,like me,that will, sword in hand protect not only gypsys or wichever minority of whatever kind on this planet at any time and moment,.Thing is that there really is a wide part of the population,berlusconi voters for instance,that do firmly belive that gypsies are the cause of all problmes,and if you ask any of these people they will without any doubt declare that gypsys (romenian roms) must be disposed as soon as possible,for security reasons all of them ,even finger print children (!!??) (law that just passed )that worries me a great deal.
    Our recent past does not allow us any exuse for this sort of thing,dont forget that italy as a democratic entity is only 60y old..see where I’m coming from? Susan I will be more than happy to give you more on this subject but not on this blog 🙂 sorry miss expatria

    I shall stop now

    ciao ciao!

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  9. I had a similar reaction when I saw this, wondering what the “proper” reaction of everyone should have been. Although on the other hand, Leo does make a good point in that if it had been Italian children, the scene might have been quite different since some Italians can, um, be a bit dramatic, especially when death, especially when the death of child is involved.

    This all reminds me of the incident in the US from a few months ago when news stations kept harping on a video showing a guy who got pummeled by a car but no one ran to help him. What few media outlets mentioned is that 911 received quite a few calls reporting the accident, and that unless you are a trained medical professional, you probably shouldn’t be anywhere near someone who just got hit by a car messing with him.

    Oh and also? Maybe that’s not the safest street to run out into the middle of?

    I can’t say what I’d do in those situations, of course, but I also can’t say what I wouldn’t do either–and I really don’t understand how others can (speaking to media who insinuated certain things about those who sunbathed).

  10. I’ve seen a few articles on this. I agree, maybe the Italians didn’t want to leave the beach etc, but I get upset if I see a dog run over, I don’t think I could stay with two little girls dead on the sand, let alone retain an appetite for lunch like some did. According to other reports, when the four Roma Gypsy girls got into trouble, no one assisted from the public beach but two were rescued by lifeguards from a private beach, although the conditions weren’t bad enough to stop people swimming. The background to this is the anti-Roma feeling in Italy. The nearest Roma camp to this event was recently burned down, and the Roma moved for their own safety. In addition, the new government has ordered the finger printing of every single Roma, including children, so strong is the anti-Roma feeling in Italy. This is a sad story, but it does make you wonder if the story would be different if the hadn’t been Gypsy kids.

  11. Matt,

    I think that the atmosphere at the beach would have been different, if only because the children would have been there with at least one parent if not an entire family, and that family would have been grieving, and that would have affected bystanders differently. I think if it were Italian teenagers without a family present, the reaction would have been much the same.

  12. To the media, it’s nothing but a buck. They are exploiting to make money yet again. Europeans (not just Italians) don’t like certain things gypsies do and train their children to do like steal, one common way is by holding a few newspapers in one hand distracting tourists and natives with phoney conversation whilst their other hand is covered by the newspaper and they’re stealing your wallet. Begging for money and sales of homemade trinkets are also looked down upon. So don’t worry, the media is not offended at all, they are offenSIVE. It’s all a game to sell, if they were truly offended then why did fox news show the broken body of Ruslana Korshunova with blood that had come out of her mouth on her face as the body bag was being zipped over her? The camera man had to set the camera on the ground to get that shot. And what about the bystanders? They gathered and took pictures of a suicide victm for what? To send home to the folks? To sell. In media you must follow the money, then the true intention will be revealed. Also check out the famous media corporate sites to see how much control they have under their belts. There you’ll find not just the news sites they own but the many magazines, web sites etc that are also their businesses. Example: Fox News Network is also Business News, Fox Movie Channel, FX Kids News, Weather Pay Per View ,Reality Speed TV Sports 20th Century Fox, 20th Century Fox International, Fox Atomic Fox Studios, Fox Television Distribution Home Entertainment, Music Searchlight Investor Information Fox Filmed Entertainment and Fox Television News Corporation

  13. I was eating pizza when i saw the photos amd i promptly threw up all over the pizza. how dare these sunbathers breath the same air as me! i wonder if the sunbathers on the beach were “goose stepping and yelling seig hiel!”

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