Realizing Roma Rights

In This Review

Realizing Roma Rights
Edited by Jacqueline Bhabha, Andrzej Mirga, Margareta Matache
University of Pennsylvania Press, 2017
320 pp.
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The estimated 14 million Roma people—“gypsies,” in old-fashioned parlance—compose Europe’s hidden minority. This book introduces readers to their plight, focusing especially on legal remedies for human rights violations. Like African Americans, the Roma suffer from a legacy of slavery, discrimination, and economic marginalization. Yet over the past century, the Roma have not benefited from the type of broad legal revolution that has improved the lot of minorities in the United States. Governments, especially in eastern Europe, continue to slight the Roma, often informally, in the provision of housing, education, and employment and frequently fail to protect them from violence and violations of family rights, including the unjustified forcible removal of children. Although a significant literature on Roma rights exists in Europe, this book seeks to bring the Roma’s plight to the attention of Americans. Insofar as policies toward the Roma have improved, it is largely because western European countries use the EU to impose policy changes on eastern European governments. The authors blame the Roma’s continued second-class status in Europe on a weak social and governmental commitment to the cause of equality, but they also note that the Roma have failed to organize effectively.