Kimmo Oksanen: Kerjäläisten valtakunta [Kingdom of beggars]
Kimmo Oksanen: Kerjäläisten valtakunta.Totuus kerjäävistä romaneista ja muita valheita
[Kingdom of beggars. The truth about Roma beggars, and other lies]
Helsinki: WSOY, 2009. 214 p.
€ 15, paperback
After Romania and Bulgaria had joined the European Union in 2007, a small group of Roma beggars from Romania arrived in Helsinki. This was a sight that was familiar to Finns on their travels abroad, but alien to them in the environment of their own city. Begging is not a crime in Finland, but the phenomenon caused a great stir in the media and, eventually, among political decision-makers. This polemic by journalist Kimmo Oksanen gives a face to the beggars and reveals many factors behind begging, as well as experiences of poverty and discrimination. Oksanen observed the beggars on the streets daily and travelled to their home villages to investigate their backgrounds. Roma criminal activity indisputably occurs elsewhere in Europe, but Oksanen maintains that there is no evidence that organised crime has arrived in Finland. The beggars are nevertheless objects of fear as well as racist attitudes.
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