MINELRES: Forced sterilization of Romani women in Slovakia

MINELRES moderator minelres@lists.delfi.lv
Sat Feb 1 16:16:40 2003

Original sender: Laco Durkovic - Ludia proti rasizmu <laco@rasizmus.sk>

Please receive the press release on the report "Body and Soul - Forced
Sterilization and other assaults on Roma Reproductive Freedom in
Slovakia" which will be presented today 28 January in Bratislava. The
entire report will be available starting with 28 January 2003 on CRR
website www.reproductiverights.org

Ina Zoon
Center for Reproductive Rights

JANUARY 24, 2003
(See below for author's mobile numbers)



New York, NY - Romani women are being coerced or forced to undergo
sterilization procedures in eastern Slovakia's government-run health
facilities, according to a new report released today by the Center for
Reproductive Rights and Poradna pre obcianske a ludské práva, in
collaboration with Ina Zoon.  Two hundred and thirty in-depth interviews
were held with Romani women in 40 settlements in eastern Slovakia.  The
investigative report documents grave human rights violations against
Romani women in Slovakia, including about 110 cases where women were
forcibly or coercively sterilized, or have strong indications that they
have been sterilized.  The report also documents extensive racism and
verbal and physical abuse towards Romani women in public hospitals,
including the denial of patient access to their own medical records and
segregation in patients' rooms, maternity wards, restrooms and dining

Agata, 28, from Svinia Talks about being Coercively Sterilized
"Doctors came and brought me to the operating room [for a C-section] and
there they gave me anesthesia.  When I was falling asleep, a nurse came
and took my hand in hers and with it she signed something.  I do not
know what it was.  I could not check because I cannot read, I only know
how to sign my name.  When I left the hospital, I was only told that I
would not have any more children…I was so healthy before, but now I have
pain all the time.  Lots of infections…"

"These egregious practices violate fundamental human rights and the
Slovak government must publicly acknowledge these violations, conduct an
investigation and prosecute those responsible," said Christina Zampas,
legal adviser for Europe for the Center for Reproductive Rights.  "The
rights to health, bodily integrity, self-determination and
non-discrimination are protected by both international and national law;
it is the Slovak government's duty to protect and fulfill the human
rights of all of its citizens, especially the most vulnerable," added

Alexandra from Richnava Talks about Racial Segregation in Slovakia's
Public Hospitals
"In Krompachy hospital, there are separate rooms for Roma-there are
three Gypsy rooms, one shower and one toilet for us while white women
have their own toilets.  White women can go to the dining room but Roma
cannot eat there.  In Gypsy room, there is not even a dust bin.  It is
like in a concentration camp there." 							 

"The Slovak maternal health system discriminates against Romani women in
almost every respect," said Barbora Bukovská, Executive Director of
Poradna pre obcianske a ludské práva.  "It is unacceptable that this is
happening in the very heart of Europe, it is been happening throughout
the transition period and continues.  We urge the Slovak government to
swiftly end these practices," added Ina Zoon, a consultant on the

The report, titled Body and Soul: Forced Sterilization and Other
Assaults on Roma Reproductive Freedom in Slovakia, makes several
recommendations to the Slovak government on ways to address these
violations.  The report is based on a fact-finding mission undertaken in
eastern Slovakia in 2002.  Romani women, non-Romani women,
obstetricians, gynecologists, hospital administrators and government
officials were interviewed for the report.   

The practice of forced sterilization stems from a racist policy
instituted under the communist regime that provided monetary incentives
to women to undergo sterilization - a policy that targeted Romani
women.  That policy was formally rescinded over a decade ago but
unfortunately lives on.  As a future member state of the European Union,
Slovakia has committed itself to the "rule of law, human rights and
respect for and protection of minorities," as required by the political
criteria for joining the European Union.   

For a copy of the report visit www.reproductiverights.org on January 23,

Mobile Numbers for:
Christina Zampas: +46-252-704-791620	
Barbora Bukovská: +420-604-205-992
Ina Zoon: +34-61-65-19242

The Center for Reproductive Rights is a nonprofit, legal advocacy
organization that promotes and defends the reproductive rights of women
worldwide. Founded in 1992 (as the Center for Reproductive Law and
Policy), the Center has used international human rights law to advance
the reproductive freedom of women and has strengthened reproductive
health laws and policies across the globe by working with more than 50
organizations in 44 nations including countries in Africa, Asia, East
Central Europe, and Latin America and the Caribbean.

The Centre for Civil and Human Rights (Poradna pre obcianske a ludské
práva) is a nonprofit organization engaged in advocacy and strategic
litigation on discrimination against Roma in the Slovak Republic.  The
priorities of Poradna are to implement projects focusing on social and
economic rights with special emphasis on the Romani minority in general
and Romani women in particular. Contact info: Kovácska 28, 040 75
Košice. Tel./Fax: +421-55-670 9518, +421-908-695 531.

MINELRES - a forum for discussion on minorities in Central&Eastern

Submissions: minelres@lists.delfi.lv
Moderator: minelres@mailbox.riga.lv 
List archive: http://www.minelres.lv/archive.htm
MINELRES website: http://www.minelres.lv/