MINELRES: ERTF: Stop Singling out Roma for Birth Control

minelres@lists.microlink.lv minelres@lists.microlink.lv
Sun Apr 1 11:11:39 2007

Original sender: European Roma and Travellers Forum <ertf@coe.int>




Strasbourg, 28 March 2007: On the occasion of the organisation by the
International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) of an international
conference called "Sharing best practices and tools in addressing the
sexual and reproductive rights of the Roma" in Bratislava, the president
of the European Roma and Travellers Forum, Rudko Kawczynski expressed
concerns about the Federation's plans and motives.

"I am utmost disgusted that IPPF had to choose Slovakia for the
implementation of one of their pilot projects and as a place for today's
venue," Rudko Kawczynski said reminding that Slovakia had just been
under attacks over alleged forced sterilisations of Romani women and
that the cases have still not been sufficiently clarified.

"Choosing Slovakia as a place for this conference and not even
mentioning the irremediable damage done to Romani women and communities
comes as an implicit approval of these policies," Kawczynski said.

While specifying that he was not opposed to sexual education and family
planning the president of the European Roma and Travellers Forum said
that this should take place in the context of mainstreaming such as
information about contraceptives being provided at schools.

"The racist character of this initiative becomes immediately apparent if
you replace the word 'Roma' by 'Jews' or any other group. A programme
aimed towards improving the access to contraceptives for the Hungarian
minority in Slovakia would immediately provoke an outcry. If the same is
done for Romani people almost everyone agrees that something needs to be
done about their 'uncontrolled' growth," Kawczynski said.

The aim of the conference was described by the organisers as "to define
mechanisms, share experiences and best practices from different
initiatives which could provide a basis for policymakers and civil
society to address the needs and to promote the rights of Roma people."
More specifically, the organisers wanted to share the experiences of two
pilot projects carried out in Slovakia and Hungary in the context of
IPPF "Roma project" aimed "at providing accessible and high quality
sexual and reproductive health services and sexuality education for Roma
and other marginalized groups." 

The projects seem to receive funding from the European Commission.

The International Planned Parenthood Federation has been criticised for
its close ties with the international eugenic movement. In 1939, the
founder of the organisation, Margaret Sanger launched two "demonstration
programs" in America's south aimed to promote family planning among the
black population. Sanger described the aims of the "Negro project" as
follows: "We believe birth control knowledge brought to this group, is
the most direct, constructive aid that can be given them to improve
their immediate situation." (Margaret Sanger, July 1939) 

Spolocnost pre planovane rodicovstvo, the Slovak partner of IPPF and
implementing agency of the project, describes its rational as follows:
"The so-called Roma problem in Slovakia has a historical, cultural and
social background extending beyond territorial boundaries of Slovakia. 
According to the analyses made at the meetings mentioned above, the high
natality is one of the reasons why the existing situation is
deteriorated. The high birthrate and multiparity result in children not
being provided with health care, not obtaining adequate education and
later in their lives, they are not able to acquit themselves well on the
increasingly demanding labour market. A vicious circle arises, which
continues to expand and brings about growing tension in the society." 

In the same way as the "Negro project", IPPF's Roma projects rely on the
active support of so-called community leaders.

Kawcynski called on the EU Commission not to finance projects which
single out Roma for birth control. "It is an irony that at a time where
everyone is concerned about Europe's declining population, Roma are
singled out for programmes of population control. Instead of eliminating
poverty these programmes seek to eliminate the poor, in particular,

"Common wisdom teaches us that there is a close link between the
material situation of a family and the number of children they have. If
people increase their material well-being they tend to have fewer
children. Roma are not any different from this," the president of the
European Roma and Travellers Forum said urging policy-makers to take
resolute action to improve the living conditions of Roma.

The European Roma and Travellers Forum is the international Romani
interest representation which gathers Europe's main international Roma
organisations and more than 1,500 member organisations from most of the
Council of Europe member states. In December 2004, the Forum signed a
partnership agreement with the Council of Europe which provides for
special relations between both organisations.

Information about the conference:



For further information about the "Negro Project" by the American
Planned Parenthood Federation: 


About the "Roma project" in Slovakia:

http://www.rodicovstvo.sk/ (see: Strategic Plan 2005 - 2008)

About coercive sterilisations of Romani women in Slovakia:


For further information and interviews please contact:

European Roma and Travellers Forum
c/o Council of Europe
F - 67 075 Strasbourg
Tel.: 00 33 3 90 21 53 50

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