Group of Women Harmed by Sterilisation launches exhibition at the Council of Europe
Ms Baloghová and Ms Gorolová will present the Group’s activities, as well as the issue of involuntary sterilisations in the Czech Republic. “A woman who cannot give birth no longer perceives herself in the same way as a woman who is able to fulfil her unique, valuable role,” says Elena Gorolová, a member of the Group of Women Harmed by Sterilisation.
In addition to securing individual apologies from the hospitals involved, the long-term aim of the Group of Women Harmed by Sterilisation and the Vzájemné soužití (“Life Together”) organization is the achievement of a public apology and eventually financial compensation for these harms.
After the successful showings of this exhibition at the Brno-based Museum of Romani Culture, the Ostrava City Library, and the Chamber of Deputies of the Czech Republic in Prague, the photographs are now coming to the Council of Europe for this meeting of the Committee of Experts on Roma and Travellers. The aim is to remind the international audience that the attitude of most high Czech government officials and politicians towards the problem of involuntary sterilisation remains dismissive for the most part, despite the fact that the Public Defender of Rights (the Ombudsman) clearly expressed his opinion on the matter in December 2005 as follows: “The Public Defender of Rights believes that the problem of sexual sterilisation carried out in the Czech Republic, either with improper motivation or illegally, exists, and that Czech society stands before the task of coming to terms with this fact.”
The Czech Ombudsman, in his Final Statement of December 2005, recommended the adoption of legislative, methodological, and compensation measures with regard to coercive sterilisations. According to the August 2006 concluding recommendations of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), the Czech government should urgently implement the Ombudsman’s
suggestions. According to the March 2007 concluding recommendations of the UN Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD), the Czech Republic should acknowledge the wrongs committed against the victims of illegal sterilisation without delay (whether the cases occurred prior to 1991 or afterward), recognize the specific situation of Romani women in this regard, and take all necessary measures to assist the victims in achieving justice and compensation, including the introduction of clear, obligatory criteria for informed consent. Both doctors and the general public should be made familiar with these criteria.
The civic association Life Together is a registered Roma-Czech non-governmental non-profit organisation unaffiliated with any political party which has been active in Ostrava since the floods in the year 1997. Life Together advocates ending the social exclusion of members of the Roma community in the Ostrava region and does its best to create friendly platforms for interaction between the Roma and non-Roma communities. Through the community work method, Life Together tries to improve the social and living conditions of poor families in need. The association’s activities are concentrated on the areas of humanitarian, educational, social and legal counselling, and the issues of housing, employment conflict resolution and human rights. The aim of the association is the strengthening of mutual trust and cooperation. For further information, please see vzajemnesouziti.jbmd.com
The Women's Initiatives Network of the Peacework Development Fund assists women worldwide who are taking local action to improve their situations. For further information, please see www.peacework.org