Turkey’s Roma population and similar social groups such as Abdal have long been among the country’s most marginalized communities. Despite being guaranteed in both domestic and international law, in practice for many Roma the right to education and housing remain out of reach: however, limited data on the disparities and discrimination they face has contributed to their continued invisibility in public life. Ignored and Unequal: Roma Access to the Right to Housing and Education in Turkey provides a detailed overview of the challenges facing these communities and the ways forward for these issues to be addressed.
Roma communities suffer some of the worst housing conditions in the country, characterized by inadequate basic services, insecure land rights and physical segregation. These settlements are also especially vulnerable to destruction and relocation to accommodate urban development – a reality that can leave communities in a protracted state of displacement. Roma students face considerable barriers to accessing education and continue to enjoy far lower levels of attainment due to discrimination. Besides economic and geographic constraints, a range of issues including discrimination in the classroom, non-inclusive curricula and the segregation of many children into poorly performing ‘Roma schools’ have entrenched unequal learning outcomes.
These communities will continue to be sidelined from the mainstream society until these rights gaps are effectively addressed. While there has been some progress in recent years, with the government developing a number of policies that officially recognize the challenges they experience, it remains to be seen if the current strategies will produce positive results. This publication provides a series of concrete steps for authorities that, if effectively implemented, could bring about lasting change for Roma and similar social groups in Turkey.