Maria Roma
A police poster featuring the child known as Maria [Reuters].

You will no doubt already have read plenty of articles about Maria, the little blonde girl discovered living with a Roma couple in the Greek city of Farsala. DNA tests proved that the couple were not Maria's biological parents, and she was promptly taken away from them, as the media circled like vultures to pick up every scrap.

But at least the international coverage of Maria, and the baby found living with non-biological Roma parents in Lesbos, has generally been fair and objective. In Greece, we have no such luxury; the media has pounced on the cases and used them as a cause celebre, an opportunity to push hidden agendas, and ram home hidden messages.

Every media outlet, whether public or private, has covered the two cases, and they have been included in non-news programmes, particularly Maria. The key theme of the coverage has been clear: Greece's Roma population is based entirely on state scroungers, a population that buys and sells children, a population that doesn't work, a population that is almost deviant.

The media has used the Roma cases to stigmatise an entire population. In the wake of the Killah P Murder and the backlash against Golden Dawn, it's not safe for the media to stigmatise immigrants anymore. Roma are a perfect back-up target. All the age-old prejudices have come bubbling to the surface.

In the tirade which has been unleashed, inconvenient truths have quietly been buried. Indeed the very notion of abduction has been handled with deliberate duplicity. The media focused exclusively on the notion that the Roma couple had abducted Maria, but they conveniently ignored the abduction perpetrated by the police and state - according to Greek law, the girl was formally a child of the Roma couple, and they had all the documents to prove it.

The media clearly have no objection to taking a child from her family, depriving her of her natural surroundings, and sending that child to a private institution. According to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, this should never happen. Yet the Greek media apparently find that very normal.

If the media really care so much about Maria, why don't they ask how she was really treated by her Roma parents? This question seems to have been completely ignored - the parents have simply been thrown in jail, and the girl has been carted off to a private facility, about which we know little or nothing.

The media's agenda has been happily echoed by the state, which has been given the ideal opportunity to alter social policy. Five years ago, the Greek state wanted to give couples money to have children, to solve the demographic crisis. But now the demographic crisis has been replaced by a financial one, so the government needs to reverse the policy.

The controversy surrounding the abduction of Maria, and the case of the Lesbos baby, have provided the perfect excuses to get rid of the subsidies policy, and will allow the state to cut off its finding. This change will be witnessed within the next few months, perhaps even the next few days.

In light of the way that Maria has been whisked off into private care, and people have not batted an eyelid, I believe we will see another change in social policy, based on privatisation of the welfare system. Again this is against the convention of the rights of the children - that is a UN convention, it is a law binding all of Europe. But Greek politicians don't seem to care.

Following the wall-to-wall coverage of recent days, the public attitude is starting to change. Slowly, people are waking up to the hidden messages lurking beneath the coverage, and asking questions. What exactly is the legal definition of abduction? Why are the Roma stigmatised again and again? How can the state put a child in private rather than public care?

But these questions don't go far enough. If we care about this child, we should know more about how her treatment - and, furthermore, we should be asking how the millions of other Greek children are treated, and what is best for their future.

If we want to change Maria's future, the future of all children, we have to have a proper conversation about how children are treated. Unfortunately the state and media are determined to ensure this conversation won't happen anytime soon.