Forced Sterilization of Roma Women Continues

Despite a report confirming the continued use of coercive sterilization on Roma (Gypsy) women, women’s advocates charge that the Czech government has failed to take action to stop these atrocities. In December of 2005, Czech ombudsman, Otakar Motejl, released a report that cites dozens of cases of sterilization of Roma women between the years 1979 and 2001 in which “no consent for sterilization was given that would be free of error and fully unrestrained,” reports the Associated Press. Motejl recommends that the Czech government mandate informed consent, improve methods of providing accurate information to Roma women, and develop a plan to provide compensation to victims.

Despite the release of Motejl’s detailed report six months ago, coercive sterilization of Roma women is still taking place and the Czech government has taken only token steps to address the problem, according to Newsdesk.org. The Czech Health Ministry acknowledges sterilization procedures were not followed properly, but refuses to provide compensation to victims, according to the Associated Press. Furthermore, many hospitals continue to deny that their actions were illegal, claiming medical reasons for sterilization. Advocates for the victims’ say that the real reason for the practice is racism, reports the Associated Press.

In response to their unjust treatment, many Roma women are now taking their cases to court. In 2005, Helena Ferencikova became the first Roma woman to sue the hospital that sterilized her. The District Court of Ostrava in Czech Republic ruled that the hospital should acknowledge malpractice and must issue her a formal apology. The hospital denied Ferencikova’s demand for compensation, and both parties are appealing.


Associated Press 6/17/06; Newsdesk.org 6/12/06; European Roma Rights Centre 2/2/06, 3/14/06; Final Statement of the Public Defender of Rights 2005

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