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May 25, 2022



Elena Gorolová: Czech state compensation for illegal sterilizations is more of a gesture, it will never make up for the children we couldn't have

20.12.2021 17:34

"I see this compensation of CZK 300 000 [EUR 12 000] as more of a gesture, naturally it will never restore our ability to conceive children. Today the women who survived this are already older, they are not in good health, they can use the compensation to buy medications or visit a spa," says Elena Gorolová, the Romani activist who has been fighting for years for illegally sterilized women to be acknowledged and compensated.

"For us, this was not just about the money, though. Personally I am still coping with what was done to me to this day," Gorolová told ROMEA TV.

The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) included the activist among the world's 100 most inspiring women in 2018, and for her efforts to compensate the victims of illegal sterilizations she was also given the Alice Garrigue Masaryk Human Rights Award by the Embassy of the United States of America to the Czech Republic earlier this month. She received that award along with the human rights activist Gwendolyn Albert and the current Deputy Public Defender of Rights, Monika Šimůnková

"We are glad to have seen the fight for compensation for the [forcibly] sterilized women through to the end. It's not the end yet, though," the Romani activist told ROMEA TV. 

"Now I would like to concentrate my work more on another current problem that many Romani women presently encounter in maternity wards. Rooms are created there that are just for Romani women who are expecting, they are separated from the Czech mothers, from the rest of the mothers," she explained in her interview for ROMEA TV, which premieres tonight at 20:00 CET.  

In 1990, during the Cesarean delivery of her second son, doctors forcibly sterilized Gorolová, and she went on to become the spokesperson for a group of such women sterilized without their informed consent; in the Czech Republic, the suspicions of forced sterilizations, mainly of Romani women, were raised in 2004 by the European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC). Dozens of women then turned to then-Public Defender of Rights Otakar Motejl, and a few also sued, according to Gorolová. 

The Czech Government's Commitee against Torture proposed instituting compensation in 2006. The law enacting compensation for those who have sterilized without their informed consent on Czech territory was approved this year by both chambers of Parliament and signed by Czech President Miloš Zeman. 

Anybody subjected to forced sterilization in the Czech Republic between 1966 and 2012 is entitled to compensation. Czech citizens who were forcibly sterilized in the Slovak part of the former Czechoslovakia prior to the two countries declaring independence in 1993 will be unable to apply to the Czech authorities for compensation, however.

bys, th, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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