by Natasha Dokovska
Esma is only 14, but her husband is 18 years old and this is his second marriage. Esma is very young and she is illiterate, having left school when she was only nine. Until now, she lived with her parents and nine brothers and sisters. Her family is very poor, and decided she should be married for the money it would bring them.
The sounds of the tambour and clarinet - loud Gypsy music – throngs of young people dressed in traditional costume, a wood table piled high with food and plenty of dry red wine…this was the backdrop for a marriage between Esma and Redxep last month in the first Roma community in Europe, Shuto Orizari, located in the northern part of Skopje, the capital of Macedonia.
“Esma was my friend; she lives near our house. Esma [did] not want to be married, but she was [forced] to by her father, Ramce. He sold [Esma] to the parents of Redxep,” say Resmija, one of Esma’s friends.
The neighbors of Esma’s family claim that she was sold for 1000 Euros (approximately $1,300 USD); they confirm that all of Esma’s other sisters have been sold off as well. In a country where the average monthly income is around $690 (USD), Esma’s bride-price will certainly help sustain the family. They say that Esma’s parents haven’t worked for ten years, and that this is one means of survival.