Government and NGO Response

Created September 2011

In countries where forced/coerced sterilization is prevalent, the government is frequently involved or complicit in the implementation of the campaigns. Therefore, in many places, non-governmental organizations lead the fight against this violation of human rights. Selected examples follow:

Poradňa pre občianske a ľudské práva (Centre for Civil and Human Rights) is a NGO human rights organization based in Slovakia that works to end discrimination against minorities. They have completed or are currently working on several projects that address forced sterilization of Roma women in Slovakia. They have also represented several victims of forced sterilization in legal procedures. In 2009, Poradňa pre občianske a ľudské práva submitted a report titled: “The Compliance of the Slovak Republic with the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment: Issues for the Discussion with the Committee against Torture” which explicitly documents the abuse Roma women suffer in the Slovak health care system.

Poradňa pre občianske a ľudské práva also worked alongside The Center for Reproductive Rights to produce the 2003 report “Body and Soul: Forced Sterilization and Other Assaults on Roma Reproductive Freedom in Slovakia” which documents the results of a fact-finding mission in Slovakia. In response to this report, the Slovak Government Office of Human Rights and Minorities filed a criminal complaint in 2003 about the illegal procedures.[1] In addition, a joint statement from several prominent NGOs including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch was issued in 2003 demanding that the investigation in Slovakia be conducted in a comprehensive and serious manner.

In 2010, The Center for Reproductive Rights published a report on the human rights violations within healthcare which classified the violation of reproductive rights as torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment (CIDT). The report includes a case study of an HIV-positive, Chilean woman who was sterilized without her consent during a c-section delivery. This NGO is an active organization which fights for the reproductive rights of women across the world.

Stop Torture in Health Care is a group that is dedicated to stopping many forms of torture in health care across the world. The organization compiles information, news and resources about forced sterilization and is active in several campaigns fighting the human rights violation of involuntary sterilization.

In an effort to combat the continued injustice of forced/coerced sterilization, the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics (FIGO) released a set of strict and comprehensive guidelines in 2011, which establish how and when sterilization can be lawfully performed. In the guidelines, FIGO recommends that only the women themselves can give consent to sterilization; sterilization should be completely voluntary and not part of a government program; sterilization is never an emergency procedure and is therefore not an exception to free and informed consent; sterilization should not be a condition of access to medical care; consent should not be asked during a position of vulnerability such as labor or the aftermath of labor; the permanent nature of the procedure must be expressed and information must be provided in a language the woman understands.[2]


[1] “Joint NGO Statement on the Issue of Illegal Sterilization of Romani Women in Slovakia” Human Rights Watch (21 July 2003).

[2] “Female Contraceptive Sterilization Guidelines”, FIGO, (2011).