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Monika Horakova - Member of Parliament
Monika Horakova

Monika Horakova was born Nov. 24, 1973 in Pardubice, graduated from a teacher's high school and then from Masaryk University in Brno with a degree in Psychology. Her mother is a teacher and her father a musician - he writes songs that are gradually becoming more popular among Roma. Until she was six she lived with brother and parents in a caravan and her fondest memories spring from that period. After that her family settled in Brno. Her brother Vladimir Horvath is a surgeon in a Brno hospital and is the husband of the ethnographer Jana Horvathova. Monika Horakova is divorced and has no children.

Her career has been mercurial - a year after she finished university, she was appointed to the position of deputy chairwoman of the government's Commission for Roma Affairs. In 1998 she joined the newly-formed Freedom Union, for which a few months later she ran for parliament in Prague and won. She took her seat in the Chamber of Deputies as its youngest member and as the only representative of the Roma minority. As a deputy, she has co-founded Athiganoi, an organization oriented toward training a Roma elite through meetings of Roma university students and graduates.

As a child in school, Monika Horakova encountered prejudice toward Roma: "The children acted strangely toward me. Suddenly I was beaten up and I didn't know why. My classmates called me a black crow... It was horrible. I walked home crying and beat up. But my mother took care of it. She came to my school, stood in front of the class, and expalined to them that I was a little girl completely the same as all the others, except that I was a Rom, so I had a darker color skin. After that I had no problems," Horakova said in an interview for the newspaper Zemske noviny. (Zemske noviny, July 10, 1998)

Even now as a member of parliament, she has felt for herself how it feels for a Rom to be excluded from a night club or restaurant simply for being a Rom...

Freedom Union Deputy Monika Horakova was denied admittance on October 17, 1998 to the Brno disco Orfeus, which she was attempting to enter with her two Roma girlfriends. She was refused admittance, however, with the explanation that the club was reserved. Police as yet have no evidence that would prove that the deputy was denied admittance to the discotheque for racial reasons.

In Monika Horakova's opinion, what are the negative Romani characteristics and what are their virtues?

"I'll start with the good ones. The first is generosity, then the stability of the family, love for family members and independence. One of the negative characteristics is kind of combines with this independence. It's the inability to plan. I myself don't know if this is a negative attribute or not, but with respect to the fact that the majority's lives are very planned out, it can be seen among the Roma as a negative. In some matters we should probably adjust. This also goes with speaking loudly. You see this as a bad thing, but for us it's natural. When we speak, it seems to you that we're shouting, but it's just how we talk," Horakova told Zemske noviny. (Zemske noviny, July 10, 1998)

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