Report on the coerced sterilization of Romani women in the Czech Republic describes last 50 years through testimony
The European Roma Rights Centre in Budapest (ERRC) has published a detailed report about the coerced sterilization of Romani women in the Czech Republic. The document of more than 80 pages describes the last 50 years primarily through the testimonies of individual women.
The report concerns one of the most serious cases of human rights violations against women, the practice of coerced sterilizations programmatically aimed at Romani women and women with disabilities during the 1970s-1990s. In communist Czechoslovakia the practice was legislated in 1971 on the basis of the adoption of a directive on how sterilizations should be performed.
The directive gave public authorities more or less free reign to systematically sterilize Romani women and women with disabilities without their full and informed consent as a means of controlling their birth rate. In 1979, Czechoslovaka also initiated a program of financial incentives for Romani women that were supposed to coerce them into undergoing sterilizations, and the motivation of this measure was said to be the necessity of "controlling the birth rate of the very unhealthy Romani population through planned parenthood and birth control."
The Czech ombudsman's investigation into the practice of the involuntary sterilization of Romani women estimated in the year 2005 that since the year 1972 it is possible that thousands of women have been involuntarily sterilized on the territory of the former Czechoslovakia - and the official records of these surgeries are misleading in many cases. "I asked for a copy of my medical records and saw that my signature had been forged. Even the date of delivery is wrong, because I did not give birth on the 25th. I gave birth on the 13th, but in my papers they wrote that I was delivered on the 25th by C-section. I have never had a C-section. They forged my signature, alleging that I had signed [consented to sterilization], that I knew. In the records it is written that I was sterilized on the 29th, but by then I had long been back home already," one survivor of these practices, who is today 48 years old, is quoted as saying in the ERRC report.
Another Romani woman describes in the report how a social worker responsible for her area told her that: "You Gypsies are accustomed to giving birth to a child every year so you can get welfare, and you live off of that welfare, etc. When Gypsies have children, they only have them so they can get welfare and they don't take care of them at all."
The sterilization of women was incentivized by state policy in Czechoslovakia until 1993, when the legislation was abolished. Nevertheless, in practice the sterilizations of Romani women and women with disabilities against their will did not end with the cancellation of the legal regulations that facilitated the practice, but continued, not just during the 1990s, but even afterword, with the most recent case known to the ERRC having occurred in 2007.
Romani people represent the largest minority in the Czech Republic. The Council of Europe estimates there are between 150 000 and 250 000 Romani people living in the country today.
According to the census of 2011, 13 109 Czech citizens reported that they were of Romani ethnicity. The entire report by the ERRC, "Coercive and Cruel: Sterilization and its Consequences for Romani Women in the Czech Republic (1966-2016)" is available online in English here and in Czech here.
- UN Human Rights Committee asks Slovak Government for independent body to investigate the forced sterilizations of Romani women
- Czech Govt Roma Council reviews Romani Holocaust sites, victim database, and compensation for involuntary sterilizations
- Europe's Human Rights Commissioner raises lack of redress for involuntary sterilization with Czech Govt again
- Analysis: Swiss Parliament approves law on "solidarity aid" to victims of forced sterilization
- Czech Republic: Romani women forced to undergo sterilization tell their stories through theater
- OSCE/ODIHR Event to Focus on Justice and Redress to Roma Victims of Forced Sterilization in the Czech Republic
- Family turns to crowdfunding for daughter's post-brain surgery recovery, Czech insurance doesn't cover therapy that gets results
- Karel Karika: I've had my first jab, the vaccine is the way back to normal life
- Czech bill to compensate forcibly sterilized women passes second reading, as does bill to close institutions for children under three
- Czech doctor explains how the COVID-19 vaccines were developed so quickly for ROMEA TV
- Coalition of Romani representatives in Czech region of Liberec appeal to Romani community to follow COVID-19 pandemic regulations
- Romani doctor in Czech Republic: As long as we never appear in such positions, nothing will change
- North Macedonia: Investigation of death of pregnant Romani woman denied care for days despite being in labor
- Interview with Romani man in Czech Republic recovering from COVID-19: This was not like the flu
- Czech Agency for Social Inclusion director gives interview about state support during the COVID-19 pandemic
- Czech Government adopts neutral position on bill to compensate women who were illegally sterilized
- Czech Govt report on the state of the Romani minority estimates 830 ghettos with 127 000 inhabitants in the regions
- Czech MPs draft bill to compensate women who have been forcibly sterilized