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When blonde hair means a police visit: Racial profiling, human trafficking, and lingering questions for Roma families

The narratives are similar, and timed remarkably close together. But the outcomes have been completely different. Had it been only or the other, it'd be a lot easier to draw simplistic conclusions. Instead, what happened this week in Roma families in Ireland and Greece only leads to more questions.

In Greece this week, a fair-haired, blue-eyed little girl known as Maria was discovered in a Roma camp in Greece after police noticed her during a camp raid for drugs and weapons. DNA tests subsequently revealed that the 5 or 6 year-old child, quickly dubbed the "blonde angel" in international media, is not related the couple she had been living with. In photographs, Maria's long braids appear much darker at the ends, suggesting her hair may have been dyed at some point to conceal her identity. Greek officials say her caretakers, Christos Salis and Eleftheria Dimopoulou, had fake registrations claiming several children born in a ten month period, changed their story about how they obtained Maria repeatedly and had a false birth certificate for Maria. But the couple insists they acquired the child in an informal adoption from a Bulgarian mother. Maria is now the subject of a worldwide hunt for her biological parents, and the couple, have been formally charged with abduction.

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