She Became A Grandma At 23!
- She gave birth at 12 to daughter who fell pregnant at 11
- She says marrying young is ‘tradition’ in Romanian gypsy circles
A gypsy wife has become the world’s youngest grandmother – aged just 23. Rifca Stanescu, from the village of Investi, Romania, told how she gave birth to her daughter, Maria, while only 12. Despite her mother’s pleas to stay in school, Maria gave birth to son Ion at the age of 11. Rifca, now 25, told the Sun: ‘I am happy to be a grandmother but I wished something else for Maria – and something else for me. ‘Ion is a good boy – and he is already engaged to a girl aged 8. Boys are always good to have – they don’t have to suffer as much girls I think.’
Born in 1985, Rifca defied her family’s wishes and ran away with jewellery seller Ionel Stanescu when she was 11 and he was 13.
A year after they were married, Rifca fell pregnant with Maria.
She said: ‘I wanted to marry him, so I agreed, and of course after we had spent the night together then there was no way anyone could separate us. I had been promised to another boy’s family since I was two years old but I didn’t want that.’
In gypsy culture virginity is greatly prized and women are married young so that new husbands can be sure their new wives are virgins who affect a good dowry from the families of prospective husbands. Loss of virginity means a deal is cancelled.
She added: ‘Before that there was a lot of fighting – once my father had even attacked my husband with a knife. He wanted him to pay 500,000 lei in compensation. My family even took me home but after three days I ran away again to be with him.’
After Maria’s birth, Ionel’s family paid Rifca’s father a dowry and all was settled. Maria’s birth made Rifca’s mother a grandmother aged 40. Rifca said she begged daughter Maria to stay in school and finish her education. Maria decided to follow in her footsteps and marry herself. Within six months she too had fallen pregnant with Ion. She told how in Romanian gypsy community it is common for couples to marry young. Rifca added: ‘I did not try to stop my daughter getting married because this is the tradition, it’s what happens.’ The youngest British grandmother was an unnamed 26-year-old from Rotherham, Yorkshire whose 12-year-old daughter gave birth in 1999.