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Dom Research Workshop

Kırkayak Kültür - Dom Research Workshop has conducted a comprehensive study in the Middle East to describe the living conditions of Dom communities. Kırkayak Kültür was founded in 2011 in Gaziantep as a civil society organization to advocate for disadvantaged groups and minorities who are socially and culturally at risk, and carries out activities aimed at integrating them in the society through dialogue and solidarity, ending prejudices and discrimination against them. Since the massive influx of refugees in Turkey, and especially in the region of Gaziantep, the association has also been working specifically with minorities among refugee groups and conducting rights-based work on the problems of Syrian migrants. The association runs culture and arts workshops in neighbourhoods with Dom populations to support the education and school attendance of children in the Middle East. Researchers at the association have been conducting academic and non-academic researches, field visits and a mapping study on such needs of Dom groups in the Middle East. Currently, they are carrying a study on the living conditions and problems of Syrian Dom communities in Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon, together with possible solutions. Kırkayak Kültür has been actively informing NGOs and public institutions, and accelerating bureaucratic procedures and processes in order to secure the necessary permits for the tent sites established by the Dom groups in the region and to establish a network among local and international organizations supporting the rights of Dom communities. Since many years, the experts of Kırkayak Kültür Dom Research Workshop have been publishing a great number of articles and surveys and exhibiting photos related the situation of Dom and related groups in conflict in Middle East also in order to sensitize public opinion and the international community on the subject.

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Why Dom? 

Dom groups are given various appellations by the peoples of the Middle East, such as Nawar, Zott, Ghajar, Bareke, Gaodari, Krismal, Qarabana, Karachi, Abdal, Ashiret, Qurbet, Mitrip, Gewende, Gypsy (Çingene), Dom, Tanjirliyah, Haddadin, Haciye, Arnavut, Halebi, Haramshe and Kaoli; all of these groups are referred to collectively as the Dom by Kırkayak Kültür – Dom Research Workshop due to their coexistence under similar circumstances and their interrelated ties. The Abdal community, who are called the ‘Per-Dom’ by the Dom, to denote lower status, have also been studied as part of the Dom community despite their linguistic, religious and historical differences, since they are called Dom by the local community (and known collectively as ‘Nawar, Çingene, Mıtrıp’ in Middle East).

Why Gypsy?

The term ‘Gypsy’ denotes all Dom, Roma and Lom communities.

Kırkayak Kültür – Dom Research Workshop

Combating Discrimination

The Doms interviewed frequently spoke of being victims of discrimination due to their ethnic origin and sect. Comprehensive training programmes for public workers, who Doms come into contact with the most, are the primary requirement for work on combating discrimination and raising awareness. NGOs, public institutions and international organisations need to be given training and information to reduce prejudice and misinformation. This should be carried out by rights-based NGOs, activists and especially Roma and Dom NGOs. The Strategy Document for Roma Citizens 2016-2012 prepared with the participation of academics and experts in this field could be shared with all bodies and organisations working on discrimination.

Education of Children

In almost all of the interviews carried out as part of the field study, it was seen that none of the Dom children had access to education. The main reasons are the fact that the children are members of a community that regularly changes location, and the prejudices against their communities.

Employment and Unemployment

Many traditional Dom occupations such as folk dentistry, performing music, peddling, iron and tin smithing, sieve and basket making, rifle repairing, saddle and harness making, and hunting wild birds are not viable forms of income today. This means a narrower field of employment for the Dom. Many communities have shifted to the more modern extensions of these occupations or to different occupations altogether. These communities rely on collecting aid for survival. When they are found out to be Doms, they are generally not given jobs and if they have already been employed they are laid off. Those working as seasonal agricultural labourers are given jobs out of necessity due to the shortage of work or a late harvest (i.e. a shorter period for gathering the crop).

A series of solution orientated recommendations have been prepared based on the present knowledge and experience of Kırkayak Kültür – Dom Research Workshop experts concerning Dom groups and their situation, data from the field study interviews and the media review that has been carried out. These recommendations have been grouped according to relevant public bodies and national and international NGOs. The recommendations are as follows:

  • Access to Healthcare
  • Registration
  • Cooperation with civil society
  • Identification and Improvement of Living Areas
  • Education of Children
  • Mediation System
  • Employment Policies
  • Vocational Training
  • Work for Community Benefit
  • Communication with Security Forces
  • Access to Public Services
  • Mobile Communications
  • Social Assistance and Services
  • Data Collection
  • Clothing and Food Aid for Children
  • Coordination
  • Combating Discrimination
  • Nutritional Support
  • Healthcare Services for Pregnant Women and Babies
  • Prevention of Discrimination
  • Directing Working Children Towards Education
  • Healthcare Literacy
  • Combating Contagious Diseases
  • Information on Social Assistance

Damage to Communal Life

The Dom society in the Middle East consists of sub-tribes and these groups of between 5 and 15 families lead a communal life. Although they may appear to live in independent tents or houses, the traditions of solidarity, co-existence and sharing are still prevalent. This communal lifestyle protects an introverted community from external threats. In times of turmoil, such as during war or conflict, families and individuals who lack individual survival skills find themselves in a strange world. The division of groups opens wounds in the fabric of society and individuals who are forced to become a part of a system that is foreign to them in order to meet even basic needs such as employment, shelter and food have to face the associated risks and threats alone. Children who sell goods in the street, women who collect aid and men who say “they would do any job” easily become involved in, or are obliged to take part in, criminal activity. Dom communities face all sorts of threats due to the splintering of groups and division of families.

Dom Women: Discrimination First based on Identity then Gender

The prejudiced approach of the local population towards women is reflected in the daily lives of Dom women. Dom women face exploitation both in the street and while doing daily shopping. They state that some local women see them as rivals, instead of acting in solidarity. The negative social perception of Dom women is compounded for Dom women due to their ethnic origins and identity. Press reports of “Gypsies” and “beggars” are often accompanied by images of women. Women who have to collect aid in the street are open to all forms of exploitation, sexual violence and abuse

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