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September 26, 2022



Elena Gorolová: I was shocked to be included among the BBC's 100 inspirational women of 2018

28.11.2018 19:09
Elena Gorolová (PHOTO:
Elena Gorolová (PHOTO:

Elena Gorolová, an Ostrava-based social worker, was shocked to be included among the BBC's 100 influential and inspirational women of the year 2018. She comprehends this honor not just as an appreciation of her work, but also a form of satisfaction.

As news server has reported, the ranking is regularly compiled by BBC television. The 49-year-old Romani resident of Ostrava did not know she would be included until the very last moment this year.

The BBC has expressed appreciation primarily for Gorolová's fight to achieve compensation for women who have been sterilized against their will. She has personal experience of such treatment herself.

Doctors sterilized her without her consent at the age of 21. She had just given birth to her second son.

Today she is a field worker for the public benefit association Life Together (Vzájemné soužití). In that role she does her best to return children living in state-run children's homes back to their families of origin.

"We also strive to make sure children never end up in those homes," she said. Since her youth she has been involved in fighting for the rights of the women who were sterilized without their consent both before and after 1989.

Doctors performed the operations without the women being fully aware of their consequences. "I know of 200 women. I am in personal contact with 100 of them," she said.

Even though she has already achieved partial successes, Gorolová does not consider the fight to be over. "It is a success that the practice has changed. Today involuntary sterilizations are no longer done. There must be a longer waiting period between giving birth and undergoing such a surgery so the woman can think it all over and discuss it with her family," she said.

The women she is representing have also already seen an apology. In 2009 the Government expressed regret for these illegal interventions.

However, those subjected to this treatment have yet to receive the compensation they are seeking. Gorolová says the women afflicted by this treatment are not just Romani.

"We also have women from the majority society among us. That's good. The public can't perceive this just as a Romani problem. This is a problem for all of society," she said.

Being sterilized absolutely altered Gorolová's life. The change was not just about the work she has done which has now resulted in her being included on this prestigious list of inspirational women.

Her personal life was impacted as well. "To this day I am traumatized by the fact that somebody else decided my fate without my agreement. I think about it a lot," she admits.

Gorolová and her husband, who has always supported her in her activities, had always longed to have a daughter. "We wanted a little girl. After our two sons we would have wanted one more child - not any more than that. I myself am just one of two children," she said.

She has not yet absolutely given up on her dream of rocking a little girl to sleep in her arms, though. She believes she will at least have a granddaughter from one of her sons in the years to come.

Gorolová is the only Czech citizen on the BBC list this year. Some of the other most inspirational women are, for example, the 65-year-old fashion designer Judith Balcaz, who has begun designing special underwear for incontinent women, or the 23-year-old blogger Chider Eggerue, who decided to raise the self- confidence of millions of women through social networks by fighting for the ordinary forms of women's bodies to be depicted in the media.

The list also includes 33-year-old Abisoye Ajayi-Akinfolarin of Nigeria, who established a company teaching young girls to create and program websites. You can watch Ms Gorolová tell the story of her life so far in the interview below, filmed by ROMEA as part of its Memory of the Roma project - turn on the English subtitles by clicking on the gear icon.

ČTK, ryz, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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forced sterilization, Memory of the Roma, Osobnosti, women


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