Czech Republic: Forced sterilization will be focus of academic and public discussions
On Tuesday, 12 June the Prague Forum for Romani Histories will dedicate its attention to one of the most serious cases of human rights violations in Europe in recent history - forced sterilizations. The program, entitled "Forced Sterilization of Romani Women in the Czech(oslovak) and European Contexts: Past and Present", will be divided into a morning expert seminar and an evening public debate.
The sterilization of women without their informed consent was not a problem just for Central European countries during the 20th century, but countries ranging from Sweden to Switzerland to the USA have also grappled with the fact of their own such practices, and in the former Czechoslovakia these interventions were connected primarily with efforts undertaken by the strong state apparatus to implement laws and regulations on social policy in order to bring the differences of the Romani members of the population into line with the rest of society. According to estimates published by the Office of the Public Defender of Rights, which dedicated itself to investigating the practices of the involuntary sterilization of Romani women in more detail in 2005, thousands of women may have been involuntarily sterilized on the territory of the former Czechoslovakia.
The 17 December 1971 adoption of a directive by the Health Ministry of the Czech Socialist Republic (LP-252.3-19.11.71.) on the performance of sterilizations facilitated these practices, as it gave the public authorities more or less a free hand to systematically sterilize Romani women and women living with disabilities without their full and informed consent as a means of controlling their fertility. The directive was abolished in 1993, but the most recent case in which sterilization was performed on the basis of consent obtained illegally is known to have occurred in 2007.
Kateřina Čapková, coordinator of the activities of the Prague Forum for Romani Histories and an historian with the Institute for Contemporary History at the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic told news server Romea.cz that "We are aware the subject of the sterilizations is, on the one hand, immeasurably serious and that a high-quality public discussion of it is necessary, but on the other hand it is a very sensitive topic. We decided to hold two thematic discussions in different formats during the course of a day that will perhaps make it possible for us to combine both the needed expert, high-quality discussion with the requisite sensitivity."
During the morning hours an international workshop will take place for registered participants at New York University in Prague. It will cover analyzing the argumentation that justified the forced sterilizations of Romani women in the Czech Republic/Czechoslovakia in the context of eugenics and the welfare state.
Academics have been invited to participate whose research is about the sterilization of Romani women in communist Czechoslovakia, as well as scholars who have studied sterilization practices in the context of Scandinavia, where sterilization was used as an official instrument of the welfare state until the 1970s. The seminar will be followed at 18:00 by a debate at the Václav Havel Library among some of those participating in the morning academic workshop that will be open to the public.
Both events will be simultaneously translated between Czech and English. A component of the evening discussion will be the subject of compensation for the victims of these harms.
There will be presentations made during the evening segment by a representative of the victims of these harms and a representative of those advocating for their compensation. In Western European countries, such compensation of forced sterilizations has already been undertaken or is in the process of happening, with the Swiss Parliament being the most recent European legislature to adopt a law on offering such aid in solidarity with the victims of forced sterilization and other abuses of the welfare state.
In the Czech Republic - just as in other post-communist countries - there is a lack of political will to undertake such across-the-board compensation of the victims of these harms by adopting legislation for that purpose. The calls for compensation by the Public Defender of Rights and a specific bill proposed by former Czech Human Rights Minister Jiří Dienstbier to that end have not yet been successful.
- Czech and Slovak Victims of Coercive Sterilization Await Justice
- Czech researcher at Romani genocide commemoration: Compensate the victims of illegal sterilizations
- Report on the coerced sterilization of Romani women in the Czech Republic describes last 50 years through testimony
- UN Human Rights Committee asks Slovak Government for independent body to investigate the forced sterilizations of Romani women
- Analysis: Swiss Parliament approves law on "solidarity aid" to victims of forced sterilization
- Elena Gorolová on forced sterilizations: We seek compensation, nobody will ever restore our motherhood
- Czech Republic: Romani women forced to undergo sterilization tell their stories through theater
- UN Committee tells Czech Republic: Compensate victims of forced sterilization and punish those responsible
- Czech Government to answer questions about illegal sterilizations, mostly of Romani women, from UN Committee tomorrow
- Marek Szilvási: Czech Government should stop gambling with the country's reputation - the fight for compensation for forced sterilization is not over
- Gwendolyn Albert: The long train ride to justice for forcibly sterilized women
- Czech Government rejects bill to compensate victims of illegal sterilizations
- Czech Republic: Victims of illegal sterilizations could receive CZK 300 000 in compensation
- Czech Government should have forced sterilization compensation plan outlined in six months
- Gwendolyn Albert: Seven UN agencies issue joint statement on stopping forced, coercive, and involuntary sterilization
- Czech doctor prioritizes registration of Romani patients and receives hateful threats from non-Roma
- Pope stands up for Romani people attacked by (neo)Fascists in Rome who threatened rape
- Elena Gorolová, who campaigns for compensation for forced sterilization, featured on Czech talk show
- Czech Trade Inspection Authority found 13 cases of consumer discrimination last year - "No Roma, no young children..."
- LIVE BROADCAST WEDNESDAY 27 MARCH: Last sessions of the Council of Europe's 7th International Roma Women's Conference
- Young teacher describes how antigypsyism is alive and well in Czech primary education
- Czech research finds excluded residents, including Roma, fall victim to crime more than others
- Czech court sentences Romani man to six months in prison for hate speech against the Czech President and others
- Czech alternative rock band features non-Roma and Roma performers
- Commentary: Czech President Zeman's racism and Romani people
- Monika Mihaličková: Czech President should take a look in the mirror and give himself a slap - "gypsy" is an insulting term
- Czech Republic: Realtor tells tenants they'd better not be on welfare