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Czech hospital apologise to Romany woman for sterilisation

Ostrava, 12.3.2007 19:52, (CTK)

The management of the Czech Vitkovicka hospital today apologised to Helena Ferencikova, a Romany woman aged 24, who had sued it for unwanted sterilisation, local coordinator of Romany affairs Kumar Vishwanathan told CTK.

The hospital management has not been available for comment.

In January, the High Court in Olomouc, north Moravia, dealt with the first complaint about involuntary sterilisation. It ruled that the Vitkovicka hospital should apologise to Ferencikova who was sterilised six years ago without her explicit consent.

However, the court did not recognise her right to financial compensation since her case fell under the statute of limitations.

Ombudsman Otakar Motejl whose office has received about 80 complaints from Romany women by the end of 2005 alone has also proposed that women be compensated for involuntary sterilisation.

Six years ago, doctors sterilised Ferencikova, then aged 19, after the delivery of her second baby.

They said that they had proceeded on behalf of the patients' health as she had had the second delivery through the caesarean section.

The hospital officials claimed that she had agreed with the treatment and her signature on her consent was in the relevant files.

However, Ferencikova says that she did not know exactly what she was signing as she had pains after the delivery.

She said that she had not wished sterilisation and had not given valid consent to it.

The European Roma Centre was the first to openly raise the suspicions of involuntary sterilisation of Romanies in 2004.

According to its report, there were cases in the Czech Republic in which Romany women did not give their consent to sterilisation or gave it under the threat of being stripped of welfare benefits.

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