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  #1  
Old 07-15-2009, 02:08 AM
Measure for Measure Measure for Measure is online now
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Children abducted by gypsies?, Part II

Last September, scm1001 asked whether gypsies indeed kidnapped children and if so why.
Quote:
Originally Posted by scm1001
I was reading about Adam Smith and noted that he was supposed to have abducted by Gypsies at the age of 4. This idea is a common cultural meme, though I suspect in most cases was a story designed to scare children about strangers and to confirm prejudice about gypsies. But assuming that it indeed happened (e.g in Smith's case) what was the point? Ransom, were the children sold elsewhere (to who?), or were they raised as gypsies because they weren't having enough of their own? Or is the whole idea without any factual basis?
Thread: http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/...d.php?t=484404

The consensus of the thread was that the story lacked factual basis: we were dealing with myth and scapegoating.

FWIW, I found 2 accounts from 1906 and 1907 from the New York Times archives of gypsies allegedly abducting girls. In the Nov 1906 account, a fourteen year old girl is lured away by an old gypsy woman and disappears for a year, leaving her family distraught. After a one year search, the father joins the bands of gypsies in order to contact his daughter, contacts the police, is accused by the gypsies of stealing $2000 of gold, and finally secures his daughter.

In Dec 1907, the New York Times reported the following:
Quote:
Originally Posted by New York Times 1907
Suffering from cold, exposure, and hunger, eight year old Lillian Wulff, kidnapped last Saturday from her Chicago home, was recovered to-day near Momence, ten miles east of here, in a raid by Deputy Sheriffs on a gypsy camp. Physicians say the child is seriously ill, but will recover.

...Lillian was at play on the lawn in front of her home Saturday when two gypsy women went in to tell Mrs. Wulff's fortune. ...Soon after Lillian disappeared. A reward of $1000 was offered...
A farmer later saw the girl trailing a gypsy wagon, got suspicious and tipped off the cops.

Nov 1906: http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstrac...679D946797D6CF

Dec 1907: http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstrac...649D946697D6CF

Now admittedly these stories don't add up for me as they lack a clear motive or evidence that Gypsies in question were even interviewed. In the older thread, one poster offered a possible explanation:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Schnitte
What were the motives? I suspect the children were mostly sold as some sort of slaves. In the pre-industrialized era, there were many labor-intensive businesses who were constantly in need of workers, and in any of them, being short in height was of advantage, such as in mines where shafts were often dug as low as possible.
I dunno. That sounds a lot like 19th century England, but I frankly don't know how much it applies to Scotland in 1727 or the US in the early 1900s. I am still puzzled.
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  #2  
Old 07-15-2009, 04:38 AM
Blake Blake is offline
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You'll notice that in both the stories you linked to the kidnapped child was female. Frankly I'm surprised that you could only find two references to such incidents. There's no shortage of evidence that the Romani (Gypsies) frequently kidnapped, and indeed still kidnap, girls. It was, and to some degree still is, a standard Romani practice to avoid inbreeding by kidnapping girls and forcing them into marriage with young Romani men.

That's all the motive that is required for the numerous well documented instances of Romani kidnapping girls.

However it still doesn't answer the question of why Gypsies would want to kidnap males, though there would be paedophiles amongst gypsies as amongst any other population.
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Old 07-15-2009, 01:52 PM
Push You Down Push You Down is offline
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Wait is it well-documented?

There doesn't seem to be that many fact based stories out there. The op cites TWO from over a hundred years ago.
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Old 07-15-2009, 08:30 PM
Blake Blake is offline
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Originally Posted by Push You Down View Post
Wait is it well-documented?

There doesn't seem to be that many fact based stories out there. The op cites TWO from over a hundred years ago.
There are plenty of stories of Romani abducting children, from several hundred years ago to the one I referenced from recent years. They range from in-passing mentions by credible sources through to complete trial transcripts. If you want to do a google news search you can find literally hundreds of stories of gypsies kidnapping children, dating from ~1800 through to 2008.



Saying that there are only two stories from 100 years ago isn't even remotely accurate. I don't know how Measure for Measure conducted his search, but the most basic Google news search turns up literally hundreds of equivalent articles from all decades for the past 150 years including this one, with more detail here and this one and this one and this one and this one

Added to this the Google cache is almost exclusively North American sources. Anyone even passingly familiar with European historical accounts will be aware of numerous cases of Gypsies kidnapping children, both alleged and convicted.

The issue is complicated by several factors.

Firstly most Gypsies have always lived on the outskirts of both mainstream society and the law. That has led to lots of semi-legal activities and manipulation of the legal system. Linked to that has been the outright prejudice against gypsies which has magnified what is mostly petty crime and scamming into serious criminal activity. As a s result you see alot of spurious correlations: a child goes missing, a similar child is seen with gypsies and people start accusing gypsies of kidnapping.

Secondly the children that actually were abducted were often, though not always gypsy girls, and often the kidnappings were probably arranged marriage disputes or scams where the groom's family hadn't paid the dowry. As a result the girl's father reported the affair to the authorities as a kidnap. This remains a very common practice in dowry disputes amongst European gypsies to this day and is probably the source of the recent story I linked to above.

Thirdly the degree of willingness of the girls that are abducted is always vague. It ranges from apparently willing elopements to cases where the girls has a choice between the "elopement" and being raped to cases of true abduction and rape. Given parental and societal pressure applied in these case sit is never clear exactly how willing the girls in question may have been or what they see the outcome as being if they don't go along with what is often described as a ritual or mock kidnapping but in many case is clearly very real.

Finally at least some cases that were alleged kidnappings turned out to be runaways adopted by gypsies. I'm guessing in many cases the runaways would have claimed to have been kidnapped to avoid further punishment, and the gypsies were not likely to get a fair hearing.

But to say that there is no evidence that gypsies kidnapped or kidnap children simply isn't true. We have everything from passing references to reliable eyewitness accounts to police records to court records that show that many kidnappings were attributable to gypsies. There are still numerous kidnapping charges levelled against gypsies in Europe even today, often by other gypsies. What isn't clear is to what degree this is "true" kidnapping of children and what degree it is an elopement or arranged marriage dispute.

But to say that there is only scant and ancient evidence that gypsies kidnapped or kidnap children simply isn't true. There's plenty of evidence, both ancient and recent. If accounts become thinner on the ground in more recent times that can be attributed to newspapers and the legal system no longer reporting criminals' ethnicity routinely.
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  #5  
Old 07-15-2009, 10:41 PM
Ourrah Ourrah is offline
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Um, wow.
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Old 07-15-2009, 11:27 PM
Measure for Measure Measure for Measure is online now
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Still puzzled

Quote:
Originally Posted by Blake View Post
There's no shortage of evidence that the Romani (Gypsies) frequently kidnapped, and indeed still kidnap, girls. It was, and to some degree still is, a standard Romani practice to avoid inbreeding by kidnapping girls and forcing them into marriage with young Romani men.
Of our handful of stories we have a 6 and 8 year old girl that are kidnapped as well as a boy. The girls were kidnapped by women and seem a little young for forced marriages.

This site says: "But as with my experience with the Romany in Europe, Gypsies do not kidnap children but readily accept runaways and homeless as their own, no matter what their origins or skin color." Ok, but although a certain share of runaways are between 7 and 11, that seems unlikely to be the sole explanation.

I see that one Sheila Salo has written, "Stolen by Gypsies": The Kidnap Accusation in the United States, in Papers of the 8th and 9th Annual Meetings, New York: Gypsy Lore Society (1988).
Quote:
If accounts become thinner on the ground in more recent times that can be attributed to newspapers and the legal system no longer reporting criminals' ethnicity routinely.
Well, the practice may gone into decline as well.

Last edited by Measure for Measure; 07-15-2009 at 11:28 PM..
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Old 07-16-2009, 07:53 PM
Blake Blake is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Measure for Measure View Post
Of our handful of stories we have a 6 and 8 year old girl that are kidnapped as well as a boy. The girls were kidnapped by women and seem a little young for forced marriages.
Did you read my links? Not being snarky, but one of the links is to a 10 yo girl that was kidnapped specifically for a forced marriage and raped by her "husband". If you wish I can also link to numerous reputable cites all stating that arranged marriages in gypsy society commonly involve girls younger than 10. Note that these aren't usually consummated immediately, but certainly there's no clear basis for claiming that 6 or 8 is too young.

Additionally the kidnapping stories include a 19yo girl, a 15 yo girl, a 14 yo girl, a 12 yo girl and others of unstated age. So I honestly don't know where you are getting that we only have a 6 yo and an 8 yo kidnapped. The ages of girls kidnapped for forced marriage run from 6 to 19 with no obvious break in the distribution anywhere.

Quote:
Well, the practice may gone into decline as well.
That is possible too of course.


My point is simply that we have a lot of reliable evidence of Gypsies kidnapping children stretching back in a line for 150 years that only seems to break in the 1940s and takes up again in the 1980s. So to claim that the only evidence is two stories from 100 years ago is simply not true. There is a plethora of reliable evidence of gypsies kidnapping children, though granted entirely female.

Quote:
This site says: "But as with my experience with the Romany in Europe, Gypsies do not kidnap children but readily accept runaways and homeless as their own, no matter what their origins or skin color." Ok, but although a certain share of runaways are between 7 and 11, that seems unlikely to be the sole explanation.
It may well be the sole explanation for the kidnapping of boys. The evidence for gypsies kidnapping of male children is virtually non-existent at this stage. Lots of accusations, several cases where the accusations were investigated and proven false. The only reliable case I can find involved a non-Gypsy nursemaid abducting her charge and running off with her gypsy boyfriend. The boyfriend was convicted of kidnapping as well, but there's nobody even at the time suggested that it was the gypsy's idea.

So basically I think we can say that while it was regularly alleged that gypsies kidnapped male children there is absolutely no evidence that they actually did so. If there are a few cases they may well be explained as runaway boys joining gypsies.

I found one reference stating that gypsies kidnapped children, mutilated them and sent them out begging. No evidence was presented for the claim and it's so implausible and so similar to accusations raised against Jews that I'm inclined to disregard it as nonsense.
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Old 07-16-2009, 08:43 PM
Measure for Measure Measure for Measure is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Blake View Post
Did you read my links? Not being snarky, but one of the links is to a 10 yo girl that was kidnapped specifically for a forced marriage and raped by her "husband". If you wish I can also link to numerous reputable cites all stating that arranged marriages in gypsy society commonly involve girls younger than 10. Note that these aren't usually consummated immediately, but certainly there's no clear basis for claiming that 6 or 8 is too young.
Admittedly no: I had only read a small segment of them. But now that I have read a greater share, I can confirm that your examples are anecdotal. That's ok, since you dutifully came up with a decent critical mass of evidence. But I was hoping for a more comprehensive treatment, along the lines of a magazine essay or scholarly work. Then again, we research the internet we have, not the internet we want...

Let's go back to Blake's hypothesis: "It was, and to some degree still is, a standard Romani practice to avoid inbreeding by kidnapping girls and forcing them into marriage with young Romani men." This story is pretty odd on its face. Firstly, I don't know of any direct substantiation for this explanation, at least in the way of interviews etc. Secondly, there are surely sufficient numbers of Romni to avoid an inbreeding problem, right? (Or maybe there are problems with internal politics. It occurs to me that individual clans might want to expand their membership, so that cross-clan marriages wouldn't serve the same purpose.) Thirdly, if girls were kidnapped more than boys in substantial numbers wouldn't this lead to a gender imbalance within the community? Or if kidnapping is indeed too rare for that to happen (highly likely in my view) doesn't that belie the inbreeding avoidance theory? Hm. Maybe the problem is that gypsy women are more likely to leave their clan and this can create imbalances among smaller and perhaps weaker gypsy groupings. Or maybe some clans have a surplus of male runaways, that they rectify with female kidnappings.

Betrothal via abduction isn't unheard of among our species -- it happens in Afghanistan for example. But the practice of having middle age women kidnap young girls to marry to young boys requires some explanation.
Quote:
So basically I think we can say that while it was regularly alleged that gypsies kidnapped male children there is absolutely no evidence that they actually did so. If there are a few cases they may well be explained as runaway boys joining gypsies.
Well there's Adam Smith in the early 1700s and Michael Morsky b. 1900, d. 1904. But maybe these were ransom attempts gone bad.


Frankly, I've had problems expressing myself in this thread. Blake's hypotheses are reasonable in my view. It's just that I have a sense that there's another narrative missing here, or at least another explanation.
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Old 07-17-2009, 01:04 AM
Blake Blake is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Measure for Measure View Post
But now that I have read a greater share, I can confirm that your examples are anecdotal.
No they are not. They are published accounts in reputable newspapers quoting police reports, eyewitnesses, victims and so forth. Those are not anecdotal by any definition of the term.

Quote:
Firstly, I don't know of any direct substantiation for this explanation, at least in the way of interviews etc.
The stories linked to above are all direct substantiation insofar as the police interviewers, victim and perpetrators all state the kidnaps took place in order for the girls to be married to gypsy men. What more direct substantiation could you possibly want?


Quote:
Secondly, there are surely sufficient numbers of Romni to avoid an inbreeding problem, right?
I'm not sure, but remember that the Romani culture strongly favours male children. A woman doesn't even become a full member of society until she bares a son. So there is almost certainly a strong gender imbalance caused by child neglect or infanticide. That is the pattern seen in all other such cultures where on gender is favoured. In these cases inbreeding remains a problem because of limited female input. Of course a lack of women may be an explanation all by itself, since similar kidnapping-for-marriage is now occurring in China.

Quote:
Thirdly, if girls were kidnapped more than boys in substantial numbers wouldn't this lead to a gender imbalance within the community?
No, see above. Societies that strongly favour one sex of children invariably skew towards that sex because of child neglect and infanticide.


Quote:
Or if kidnapping is indeed too rare for that to happen (highly likely in my view) doesn't that belie the inbreeding avoidance theory?
Nope. If the material is truly novel you only need to outcross at very low rates to avoid inbreeding problems. Like once every third or fourth generation.


Quote:
Maybe the problem is that gypsy women are more likely to leave their clan and this can create imbalances among smaller and perhaps weaker gypsy groupings. Or maybe some clans have a surplus of male runaways, that they rectify with female kidnappings.
Well women certainly move in with their husband's family. But I suspect that the gender imbalance problem could explain a lot. But I can't find anything confirming gender imbalance in gypsy communities.

Quote:
But the practice of having middle age women kidnap young girls to marry to young boys requires some explanation.
Why? Presumably the whole community accepts such a practise, so you'd use whoever is most likely to success in f the bid, yes? Who is a young girl more likely to quietly walk off with, a hairy 30 yo man or a grandmother figure? This at least makes perfect sense to me.



Quote:
Well there's Adam Smith in the early 1700s and Michael Morsky b. 1900, d. 1904. But maybe these were ransom attempts gone bad.
What is the actual evidence for the Smith case though? Was he seen to be kidnapped, or did he go missing, get found in a gypsy caravan and then claim he was kidnapped?

The Morsky case, if it was a one off, requires no explanation. Some Jews really do pimp Christian girls, some Gypsies really do kidnap women. Some people of all groups do bad things, sometimes those bad things conform to stereotype. It doesn't really need to explained if it's not significantly different to the general population.

Quote:
Frankly, I've had problems expressing myself in this thread. Blake's hypotheses are reasonable in my view. It's just that I have a sense that there's another narrative missing here, or at least another explanation.
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Old 07-17-2009, 02:04 AM
Captain Amazing Captain Amazing is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Blake View Post
In these cases inbreeding remains a problem because of limited female input. Of course a lack of women may be an explanation all by itself, since similar kidnapping-for-marriage is now occurring in China.

Except, in the cases where kidnapping like this happens, and in the recent examples you've cited, it's in-group kidnapping. Traditionally, Roma don't marry non-Roma. Non-Roma are impure. So that wouldn't take care of any inbreeding problem.

I think to the extent that it actually happens, and it isn't a false report, it's usually a case of an arranged marriage gone bad.

Last edited by Captain Amazing; 07-17-2009 at 02:05 AM..
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Old 07-17-2009, 03:20 AM
Blake Blake is offline
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Originally Posted by Captain Amazing View Post
Except, in the cases where kidnapping like this happens, and in the recent examples you've cited, it's in-group kidnapping.
And all cases reported to the authorities and gone to the courts. Which has been my point all along: Gypsies have a longstanding reputation for kidnapping children.


Quote:
Traditionally, Roma don't marry non-Roma. Non-Roma are impure. S
A common misunderstanding.

"Therefore, they prefer “endogamous marriage.” Gypsies regard, in principle, non-Gypsies as impure (márimé). Accordingly, a Gypsy who marries a male or female non-Gypsy becomes impure as well. However, they do not object to the marriage of a non-Gypsy girl to a Gypsy boy, providing that she completely conforms to all prerequisites of the Gypsy culture."
Ali Rafet Ozkan
Marriage among the Gypsies of Turkey
The Social Science Journal
Volume 43, Issue 3, 2006, Pages 461-470

The "non_Roma are impure" line comes from a misunderstanding of the fact that non-Roma defile themselves. If a non-Roma doesn't defile themselves they aren't impure.


Quote:
I think to the extent that it actually happens, and it isn't a false report, it's usually a case of an arranged marriage gone bad.
As I noted above, this is very hard to judge for all sorts of reasons. Once you add in an age where -non-Roma frequently entered into arranged marriages it all become to murky to establish.
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Old 07-17-2009, 04:12 AM
Measure for Measure Measure for Measure is online now
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Originally Posted by Blake View Post
No they are not. They are published accounts in reputable newspapers quoting police reports, eyewitnesses, victims and so forth. Those are not anecdotal by any definition of the term.
Anecdotal: based on personal observation, case study reports, or random investigations rather than systematic scientific evaluation: anecdotal evidence.

You've demonstrated that gypsy kidnappings occur, although you haven't demonstrated their prevalence. Examples from newspapers are just that: examples. We don't have a dataset; we don't even have a proper journalistic investigation which would involve at least interviews of all parties.
Quote:
The stories linked to above are all direct substantiation insofar as the police interviewers, victim and perpetrators all state the kidnaps took place in order for the girls to be married to gypsy men. What more direct substantiation could you possibly want?
Ok, let's build the dataset.

Case 1: Adam Smith, early 1700s. Four year old male. Reliability of story: dubious.

Case 2, NYT 11/18/1906: 14 year old girl lured away by old gypsy woman. Father spends a year trying to find her. No evidence of marriage.

Case 3, NYT 12/14/1907: 8 year old girl kidnapped, by pair of female gypsy fortune tellers. Reward offered. Suspicious farmer spots girl and turns her over to authorities. No evidence of marriage.

Case 4, NYT 5/10/1891: Gypsy woman picks up 6 year old daughter of pastor from their front yard. Kidnap attempt thwarted within an hour by passerby. Nobody caught.

Case 5, NYT 10/24/1904: Four year old boy grabbed by band of gypsies and later killed for unclear reasons. Lynch mob forms but authorities determined to safeguard the prisoners: National Guard alerted.

Case 6, Chicago Tribune 11/23/1909: "CHILD LOVES HER KIDNAPERS Prefers the Gypsy Life Rather than Return to Her Parent... Kidnaped by gypsies more than two years ago, Amelia Johnson, 13 years old, was found yesterday by her father, Ephralm Johnson, of Elisabeth N. J., who has traveled thousands of miles in the search for his daughter." No evidence of marriage, but it can be reasonably suspected.

Case 7, NYT 4/14/1931; 38 year old woman discovers that she was kidnapped by gypsies in 1898. She was 5. She escaped 7 years later and lived with a family for 13 years. No evidence of marriage.

Case 8: Ludington Daily News - Nov 12, 1931: "Did Gypsy Prince Kidnap 14 year old bride or buy her: Question before police". Ok, here we have an actual marriage at least, though Blake thinks that it was probably an arranged marriage gone bad.

Case 9: ThinkSpain.com: Five accused of kidnapping a 19 year old gypsy woman. "During her two months in captivity, she was allegedly raped, beaten with dog leads, tortured and only given food and water sparodically." This followed her breakup with one of the 5 perps. This is horrific, but it isn't exactly a stranger/danger abduction.

_These are not permanent abductions_

Case X, NYT 10/21/1874: 4 year old boy kidnapped, but he wasn't found. This one doesn't count since the perps weren't identified. It's a lengthy and sad story of a family enduring a number of false leads.

Case XI: Abduction and rape of 16 year old girl, not permanent kidnapping. http://paper.standartnews.com/archiv...ia/s4648_4.htm

There are more cases, but I don't necessarily see the pattern that Blake does - though I can't rule it out either. I don't see any clear cut cases of a girl being kidnapped in order to be forcibly married, but then again I would think that the girl's family might want to keep that aspect quiet. There are 3 cases of boys being kidnapped, but the Adam Smith case is old and of dubious provenance and its not clear whether one of the other ones even involved gypsies.

Quote:
I'm not sure, but remember that the Romani culture strongly favours male children. A woman doesn't even become a full member of society until she bares a son. So there is almost certainly a strong gender imbalance caused by child neglect or infanticide.
I'd want to see some direct evidence of this gender imbalance. (There is direct evidence of such an imbalance in rural China, for example).
Quote:
Nope. If the material is truly novel you only need to outcross at very low rates to avoid inbreeding problems. Like once every third or fourth generation.
And gypsy clans think this way?

Again, don't get me wrong. I haven't come up with any new ideas and Blake's hypotheses are reasonable. And I haven't read all the links. But I can't find a decent set of cases that link a documented kidnapping of a nongypsy child by a gypsy clan to a definitive motive.
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Old 07-17-2009, 04:39 AM
Measure for Measure Measure for Measure is online now
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Originally Posted by Measure for Measure View Post
I'd want to see some direct evidence of this gender imbalance.
It took a bit of googling, but I found some evidence that gypsies favor daughters over sons. Huh.

Cites: Holistic Anthropology:
http://books.google.com/books?id=yK-...esult&resnum=3

Proceedings: Biological Sciences "Female-biased Reproduction Strategy in a Hungarian Gypsy Population"
http://www.jstor.org/pss/50361

But the explanation of why Gypsy families favor girls is interesting:

"Some evidence to support the hypothesis is provided by the fact that Gypsy women are more likely than Gypsy men to engage in exogamous marriages (marrying a Hungarian in regarded as a way of marrying up.) Although only 2.8% of rural Gypsy women married Hungarian men, 26.7% of women in the urban Gypsy population did so."

Ah. So while there are more female births (and generally greater parental investment in girls), gypsy males may still have problems marrying within the clan -- or outside the clan for that matter. Hence the temptation of violent means -- though again the evidence isn't as clear here as I would like.
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Old 07-17-2009, 04:53 AM
Blake Blake is offline
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Originally Posted by Measure for Measure View Post
Anecdotal: based on personal observation, case study reports, or random investigations rather than systematic scientific evaluation: anecdotal evidence.
Where did that definition come form? It is certainly not the common usage. Suffice it to say that by the standard definition of evidence based on anecdote or unverifiable obsaervtion it's not anecdotal.

I'm surprised to find a definition that divides all evidence into scientific or anecdotal. By this standard expert testimony, video footage and so forth are all "anecdotal", which they clearly are not.

Quote:
There are more cases, but I don't necessarily see the pattern that Blake does
So what, are you disputing that these reports state that the police interviewers, victim and perpetrators all state the kidnaps took place in order for the girls to be married to gypsy men? Or are you saying they are unreliable when they do say that?

I just can't see how you can possibly deny that gypsy kidnappings for the purpose of marriage have been taking place and being prosecuted by thepolice for at least 150 years given the evidence to hand.

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And gypsy clans think this way?
I don't know how they think. Your point was that rare kidnappings couldn't avoid the deleterious effects of inbreeding. That is factually incorrect.

Quote:
But I can't find a decent set of cases that link a documented kidnapping of a nongypsy child by a gypsy clan to a definitive motive.
That might be largely explained because newspapers were reticent to print sexual details of crimes and the victims were reticent to admit they took place. IOW the lack of stated motive may very well be indicative in itself.
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Old 07-17-2009, 04:58 AM
Blake Blake is offline
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Originally Posted by Measure for Measure View Post
It took a bit of googling, but I found some evidence that gypsies favor daughters over sons. Huh.
Interesting, though the article does note that these are not typical gypsies since they are living settled sedentary lives and routinely outmarrying. So I'm not sure what we can infer form this about the stereotypical "travelling gypsies" who are supposed to go about stealing children.
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Old 07-17-2009, 11:28 PM
Measure for Measure Measure for Measure is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Blake
Where did that definition come form? It is certainly not the common usage. Suffice it to say that by the standard definition of evidence based on anecdote or unverifiable observation it's not anecdotal.

I'm surprised to find a definition that divides all evidence into scientific or anecdotal. By this standard expert testimony, video footage and so forth are all "anecdotal", which they clearly are not.
It appears that I have a different conception of the word "anecdotal" than you do. I got the definition from dictionary.com. Feel free to link to a definition that matches your understanding.

By my definition, anecdotal evidence would not involve expert testimony, since expert opinion is by definition based upon systematic examination, as opposed to a collection of examples. Incidentally, anecdotal evidence isn't considered worthless: it's just insufficiently strong for policy purposes.

Quote:
So what, are you disputing that these reports state that the police interviewers, victim and perpetrators all state the kidnaps took place in order for the girls to be married to gypsy men? Or are you saying they are unreliable when they do say that?
The former. I marched through 11 examples. Cases 1-7 had no mention of marriage. Case 8 did involve a marriage, though whether it was an arranged marriage gone bad was unclear. Case 9 was not a stranger/danger abduction, which is what the OP refers to. Cases 10 and 11 didn't apply. Feel free to go over those examples, or link to others.
Quote:
I don't know how they think. Your point was that rare kidnappings couldn't avoid the deleterious effects of inbreeding.
Regardless, the inbreeding avoidance theory requires some sort of conscious or unconscious mechanism. Didn't know that only low rates of outbreeding were required though.
Quote:
That might be largely explained because newspapers were reticent to print sexual details of crimes and the victims were reticent to admit they took place. IOW the lack of stated motive may very well be indicative in itself.
Perhaps. But there's another possible motive. Gypsy women who can't have kids may be kidnapping them from time to time. This explanation might cover kidnapping of 4 years olds. More generally, it would explain the bias towards girls, who generally speaking are easier to control than boys.
Quote:
Interesting, though the article does note that these are not typical gypsies since they are living settled sedentary lives and routinely outmarrying. So I'm not sure what we can infer form this about the stereotypical "traveling gypsies" who are supposed to go about stealing children.
True. I'm actually a little surprised on the thinness of the evidence on this topic.

Ah: In Czechoslovakia (1971-1981) the population was indeed male biased: 1033 males for every 1000 females. "The proportion of gypsy children ages 0-14 is also very high, about 43.4% of the total gypsy population. The male average age is 10.1; the female average age is 11.3." Huh: I don't see much evidence of a shortage of kids in that example. So much for my conjecture about infertile gypsy mothers. Then again, this population appears to be sedentary as well. http://www.popline.org/docs/0022/206538.html

Last edited by Measure for Measure; 07-17-2009 at 11:30 PM..
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Old 07-20-2009, 12:47 AM
Measure for Measure Measure for Measure is online now
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First I'd like to state the obvious. At least in the US, we're talking about a minuscule problem, if that. While the media likes to cite factoids like 800,000 children are missing every year, that figure includes runaways, family abductions and sleepovers without permission. The real scary cases which come to mind are called "stereotypical kidnappings" and they numbered 115 in 2002. The main works on child abduction don't mention gypsies. Heck, the longest 19th century piece on the subject that I came across ("Child Stealing" NYT, 7/26/1874) didn't mention gypsies either.

Ok, I finally found a scholarly treatment of Gypsy kidnapping in Group images: racial, ethnic, and religious stereotyping by Frederick Samuels (1973). Link.

The author acknowledges 2 documented cases of gypsy kidnappings. As an explanation, he offers the inbreeding avoidance hypothesis (h/t Blake) as well as noting that gypsies will on occasion take in runaway unmarried mothers.

Also, "Runaway children through the ages have attempted to escape parental wrath by claims of being seized by gypsies." And some Gypsy girls would flee their tribes, telling others that they had been kidnapped as children.

Eh. Those aren't exactly the remarks of a specialist. But it's the best I could come up with.
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