Xoraxané Romá - Economy

Although they pursue various activities and are partially involved in salaried jobs in what was Yugoslavia, few of the Xoraxané arriving in Italy today intend to sell their labor. Although some try to make a living through small commercial activities, like the sale of used paper for recycling, most of them live by begging and petty theft. Only the Xoraxané originating from Bosnia are involved in the coppersmith trade. Begging is considered a real trade and, among the Xoraxané from the Kosovo region, it can be followed by all the members of a household—men, women, the elderly, and children— although only the women tend to do it on a day-to-day basis. The women prefer begging in town centers, halting along the busiest streets or outside churches, and they do not try to hide the fact that they are Gypsies. The men, however, prefer begging door-to-door and pretend to be non-Gypsy cripples, political refugees, or Yugoslavian, Romanian, or Lebanese earthquake victims. They all see the town in which they are encamped as their principal, though not their only, begging area. The town of temporary residence is in fact the center of an economic area that extends as far as other nearby towns, reached daily by the Romá by means of public transport. On account of the woman's domestic duties, the extension of her economic area is somewhat limited in relation to the man's: a woman may travel as far as 50-60 kilometers from her encampment in order to beg, while a man may go as far as 100-150 kilometers. Petty theft is practiced above all by children, since the latter cannot be punished under Italian law. This has led, in recent years, to some families "renting" children for a sum of money from relatives or friends in Yugoslavia. For this reason, certain Romá have been condemned by the Italian law courts as "slave traders." The Romá themselves declare that a month's begging in Italy can earn you as much money as 3-4 months' salaried work in Yugoslavia. Some families, therefore, organize their migration in great detail; some members of the household remain in Yugoslavia, while others go to Italy to beg for a few months. In this way life in Italy is seen only as a "period of production," while the earnings are spent in Yugoslavia.

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