Roma Women in the Czech Republic Report Coercive Sterilization
Monday, July 25, 2005 9:50 AM

At least 70 Roma women in the Czech Republic have publicly accused state-run hospitals of sterilizing them without their consent during the past 15 years.

While the women say they may have signed papers authorizing sterilization, their reports indicate that proper consent was not given.  Roma women report being given incomplete information and being pressured to sign before giving birth.  One woman says that a social worker threatened to take away her children permanently unless she was sterilized.

The women claim that they were targeted because of their race.  During the communist era, "undesirables," a group that included Roma women, were sterilized by the government.  This practice was supposed to have ended with the fall of communism.  However, prejudice against the Roma remains widespread: a survey reported that "nearly 80 percent of Czechs would not want a Roma as a neighbor" (From: "Sterilized Roma Women Say They Did Not Consent," Women's E-News, 25 July 2005).

The Czech health ministry has responded by drafting legislation that would restrict sterilization and provide tighter regulations for medical consent.

Compiled from: "Sterilized Roma Women Say They Did Not Consent," Women's E-News, 25 July 2005; "Romani Women Coercively Sterilised in the Czech Republic Come Forward," European Roma Rights Centre, 7 April 2005.