SITUATION OF ROMA WOMEN
Definition of the problem
Roma w omen across Europe face racism, discrimination and marginalisation.12 The low
levels of education completed by Roma women, their high rates of school dropout, non-
completion of compulsory education, high unemployment rates, and the poor available
employment opportunities deprive Roma women and girls of opportunities to part icipate
fully in society. These phenomena are observed among Cypriot Roma women as well.
Among the very few targeted policy measures specifically for Cypriot Roma, which apply
only to housing and education, none target Roma women specifically.
Background of the problem
As mentioned in previous reports, Roma who live in the settlements of Cyprus are isolated
from the rest of society and have problems accessing education, health care, employment
and other related services.13 The main reason for the isolation of the Cypriot Roma is the
antigypsyism they have experienced since their first arriving to Cyprus after travel
restrictions across the de marcation line were eased in 2003. At that time, the Greek
Cypriots (G/C) reacted negatively to their arrival because the R oma were meant to take
up residence in empty Turkish Cypriot (T/C) houses. Due t o these reactions, Cyprus
offered prefabricated houses for the Roma, built far away from the G/Cs in order to avoid
confrontations. This policy of building prefabricated housing units for Roma in remote areas
with limited access t o public services promotes the practice of de facto segregation.14 As
a result, Cypriot Roma live in ghettos and are still alienated from mainstream society
Increasing antigypsyism in Cyprus is associated with the mobility of Roma families. This
negatively impacts the safety of Roma women and girls, making them increasingly
vulnerable to social exclusion, exploitation, trafficking and violence.
As mentioned in the introduction, the est imated number of Cypriot Roma is about 1,250.
Due to the division of the country after the Turkish military invasion of Cyprus and the
lack of control by the RoC over the northern areas of the country, as well as the frequent
movement of a significant number of Cypriot Roma from one side of the demarcation line
to the other, it is v ery hard to estimate Roma population numbers in Cyprus. Therefore,
demographic data about them, including gender distribution, age dis tribution, and socio-
economic status cannot be provided at the moment. According to Pelekani’s observations
(April 2020), in Limassol there are about 12 Roma families (50 people) in the Polemidia
area, and 50 families (around 2 00 people) in the Agios A ndonios area, while in Paphos
there are about 30 families (120-150 people).
According to the authors’ field research, regardless of the availability of social assistance
and the Guaranteed Minimum Income (GMI), the average number of children per family
amongst the Roma population in Cyprus has seen a decrease compared to its historical
size. The maximum number of children in a Roma family today is four, compared to
previous generations where Roma families had as many as eight children. For economic
reasons, Roma families today prefer to have no more than two or three children. There
are also some Roma families who do not benefit from the GMI even though they are long-
term unemployed and poor. This is due to the fact that not all the Cypriot Roma are
12 Strategy on the advancement of Romani women and girls (2014-2020). Available at:
https://rm.coe.int/16806f32ff (Retrieved on 2 December 2019)
13 Ibid. Available at: https://rm.coe.int/16806f32ff (Retrieved on 2 December 2019)
14 ECRI report on Cyprus, available on the website: https://rm.coe.int/fifth-report-on-cyprus-greek-
translation-/16808b563d (Retrieved on 9 November 2018).