In central Bulgaria, a controversial tradition of the Kalaidzhi Roma clan is celebrated every year. The controversial tradition involves unmarried young women to be sold off to men with the highest bid. The bidding happens at a bride market in the town of Stara Zagora as an all-around party for the clan. A Youtube Channel called Vice made a documentary and followed two daughters, Pepa, and Rosi whose mother was also sold off to their father.

The clan is known to be populated by skilled coppersmiths. But because of the demand for copper wears has decreased, they face economic hardships and financial struggles. The families in the community, they take the bride market as an opportunity to find marriages for daughters and gain financial advantage. Vera, the young women’s mother stated the importance of being a virgin when sold, as otherwise, they will be called sluts and whores. The women are not allowed to go out and party, instead, they organize parties at home around families. They also put a lot of effort into their appearance to get a higher bid. Women make their skin whiter to attract potential in-laws. They also spend money on clothes, shoes, and cosmetics which Vera called as an “investment”.

When asked about their dreams, the two answered that they would like to study and become someone, however, their tradition won’t allow it. Sadly, 1 of 5 Bulgarian Roma women is illiterate, with only 10% of them getting access to secondary education. They are removed from school at an early age because a women’s role is to take care of the husband and the children.

The producer of the documentary, Milene Larsson personally went to the market and experienced the bidding as well. Men asked for her price while she said that she “feel fundamentally uncomfortable”. Watch the full documentary here:

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