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Two Czech Romany women to discuss sterilisation in Strasbourg

Ostrava, 18.5.2007 18:46, (CTK)

Two Czech Romany women, members of the Association of women harmed by sterilisation, will leave for Strasbourg next week to attend a meeting of the Committee of Experts on Roma and Travellers within the Council of Europe, the Mutual Cohabitation organisation has informed on its server www.romea.cz.

The women will also take part in the opening of an exhibition "The World through the eyes of forced sterilisation victims" and present the issue of forced sterilisations in the Czech Republic, the server says.

The European Roma Rights Centre in 2004 released the suspicion of forced sterilisation of Romany women in the Czech Republic.

According to the centre, in some cases Romany women did not give consent with the treatment or they were forced to it in an emergency situation or under the threat they would be stripped of social benefits.

Since the end of 2005, some 89 Czech Romany women have filed complaints about forced sterilisation with the Czech Ombudsman's Office.

The photographic exhibition on forced sterilisation, which will be opened in Strasbourg next week, has already been presented in the Brno-based Museum of Roma Culture, in the municipal library in Ostrava and in the Czech Chamber of Deputies.

The Mutual Cohabitation association says that the display is to point to Czech politicians' indifferent stance on forced sterilisation.

The association of forced sterilisation victims, based in Ostrava, north Moravia, is striving for financial compensation for the victims and an apology from the respective hospitals.

Ombudsman Otakar Motejl has also proposed compensation to the victims from 1973 to 1991 when a directive was in effect enabling to pay a 10,000-crown benefit for undergoing sterilisation. According to Motejl's report, social workers offered the benefit to Romany women and persuaded them not to have other children.

Motejl has also recommended measures to prevent similar cases in the future.

The U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), last year called on the Czech Republic to quickly implement the Ombudsman's proposals.

The Czech Government Council for Romany Affairs also approved the establishment of a fund to compensate the victims of forced sterilisations whose claims would otherwise fall within the statute of limitations .

The Mutual Cohabitation, set up in Ostrava after the 1997 floods, ranks among the most significant organisations helping Romanies in the Czech Republic. It focuses on housing and education of Romanies and an improvement of their relations with the majority society.

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