Wednesday, August 03, 2016

How the Czechs sterilised Roma women

This blog over the years has tried to direct attention to the discrimination against the Roma and the prejudices that exist against them across Europe. Al Jazeera recently carried this article that described the forced sterilization of Roma women by the then Czechoslovakian government. 

The systematic sterilisation of Roma women without their full and informed consent - aimed at bringing down their high birth rate - was state policy. It was officially abolished in 1993, but according to the European Roma Rights Centre, it continued throughout the 1990s and 2000s, with the last known case in the Czech Republic taking place in 2007.

Roma women are demanding financial compensation for what was done to them. "But it's not only about money. It's about the recognition that our rights have been violated," Elena, a 47-year-old social worker, was sterilised against her will as a young woman, who tell their stories in a theatre play called ‘Stories that Have (Never) Begun’. The play premiered last month in Ostrava, a city in the Czech Republic with a large Roma community.

In 2009, the Czech government expressed its regret over the illegal sterilisations. But last year it rejected a law that proposed compensation for the victims. "They said that a special law is unnecessary, because the women can take their cases to court," explains Marek Szilvasi of the European Roma Rights Centre, which is supporting the women. "But the problem is that many of their cases are barred, because according to Czech law, the women need to file their complaint within a certain amount of years."

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