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Call from Roma Communities on World Roma Day: Be with Roma Every Day of the Year

12.04.2022
The Roma Dialogue Network, in the statement made on April 8, World Roma Day, said that the discrimination faced by the four Roma groups in Turkey, namely Roma, Lom, Dom, and Abdals, has created severe problems in accessing human rights.

In the statement, it was emphasized that with historical and social background, prejudices and discrimination constitute the biggest obstacle to their equal participation in social, cultural, economic, and political life.

The access rate to education is worrisome
Today, the issue of Roma children's access to education is in an uneasy situation. Roma children are forced to leave school desks at a very early age due to financial difficulties. The few Roma children who have the chance to attend school, on the other hand, cannot receive a "quality" education, which is crucial for them to break this cycle of poverty, and they have to deal with prejudices in the school system.

Roma are among the groups with the highest unemployment
According to the recent Survey on Roma Communities and Poverty in Turkey, Roma has the highest unemployment rate among all vulnerable groups, with an average of 77.5%.

Due to the prejudices and discrimination they face in the job market, they do not have equal access to employment opportunities. The jobs they can find are usually temporary, low-paid, insecure, and heavy work. The inability to work decent jobs and earn a regular income also locks the Roma in the spiral of poverty.

Housing is a critical problem for Roma
The majority of Roma continue to live in substandard houses in suburbs where infrastructure and superstructure are insufficient. Leaking roofs, dampness, damage to walls, jambless doors, and windows are common household conditions. Heating the houses in winter and keeping them cool in summer is another problem. While urban transformation should have brought a solution to the housing problem and made on-site improvements, it appears as an expression of spatial exclusion in some places. It also destroys the living spaces, cultures of the Roma, and the social and solidarity relations that exist in the neighborhood culture. They are placed outside the city and isolated from the rest of society.

Roma's access to food becomes more difficult
It has become even more difficult for Roma to access nutritious food in an environment of constantly rising prices. This segment, which has had problems in accessing foods rich in protein and vitamins for generations, has also eliminated legumes from their meals. They can fill their stomachs with cereal-based foods. Not being well-fed, living in substandard homes, harsh living conditions, and poverty are reflected in health indicators. The average life expectancy of the Roma is about 10 years below the average life expectancy in our country. Respiratory disorders are common in children, chronic diseases begin in their twenties and the severity increases with age.

The obstacle to equal citizenship is discrimination
Poverty is one of the main problems. However, the biggest obstacle to the participation of Roma as equal citizens in social life and the main reason behind the problems listed above are the prejudices they face and the discrimination caused by these prejudices. Particularly, discriminatory statements in the media lead to the exclusion of vulnerable groups such as the Roma, while reinforcing prejudices. Unfortunately, prejudices go beyond discrimination and sometimes turn into hate speech. Not enough precautions are taken regarding hate speech either. Those who commit this crime stay with what they do.

Being With the Romas in 6 Articles
The network also has expectations from civil society activists and the public who are sensitive to human rights:

  • Questioning prejudices and stereotypes towards Roma,
  • To raise a voice about hate speech, social exclusion, and discrimination that Roma are exposed to,
  • To be informed about the historical, social, and cultural life of the Roma and their economic and social problems,
  • Standing by the Roma when they are witnessed to be exposed to discriminatory attitudes,
  • To involve them in decision-making processes before making decisions on issues related to the Roma community,
  • To be with the Roma, not only on April 8, World Roma Day, or on May 6, Hıdırellez but throughout the year.
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