There have now been a series of incidents where state workers have taken light-haired children away from their Roma parents — a witch-hunt spurred by recent events in Greece. But unlike in the past, we now have a scientific way to fight this kind of racism.
Since 5-year old Maria was taken from a Roma couple in Greece, there have been (at least) two cases in which a child was taken away from their parents. In one case, a blonde-haired, blue-eyed girl was removed by police from her home in Dublin, Ireland. A second case involved a 2-year-old boy from a Roma family who was briefly taken away in Ireland's Westmeath County. The rationale was that these Roma families had probably kidnapped the children from white people.
In the first case, DNA tests have now proved that the girl is in fact the biological offspring of the parents. After three arduous days, the girl was reunited with her family.
An example of DNA fingerprinting, 10 individuals are tested for 6 loci (Alila Medical Media/Shutterstock):
To prove parentage, scientists use polymerase chain reaction (which amplifies specific regions of a DNA strand) and restriction fragment length polymorphism (the process of creating and differentiating DNA fragments). Both of these techniques produce genetic fingerprints that can match child to parent — and it does so with 99.99% accuracy.
And thank goodness for that. And thank goodness for all the other things that DNA testing does for us, like its indispensable role in criminal investigations and trials.
Relatedly, and in another case of science-to-the-rescue, a Bulgarian couple suspected of being the biological parents of Maria have given their DNA to police.