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Hundreds of Activists Support Campaign for Compensation for Coercively Sterilised Romani Women
15-07-2008 - Press release

At the beginning of July, members of the Ostrava-based Group of Women Harmed by Coercive Sterilisation and their advocates from European Roma Rights Centre and Peacework Development Fund initiated a campaign to activate the global women’s rights movement in lobbying efforts for public recognition of coerced sterilisation and compensation for Romani survivors of these practices in Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia.

The campaign was launched around the 2008 Women’s Worlds Congress in Madrid, Spain, which brought together thousands of women’s rights advocates from around the world, and was supported by the Open Society Institute’s Public Health Program and the Heinrich Böll Stiftung Warsaw.

During the Congress, supported by simultaneous actions in Czech Republic and Hungary, activists from more than 40 countries signed and sent hundreds of postcards and letters to the Czech, Hungarian and Slovak governments urging them to respond to calls for public apologies and compensation for coerced sterilisation survivors.

After five years of targeted advocacy and lobbying of the governments concerned, the survivors and their advocates turned to the global human rights movement to strengthen their efforts to secure justice, as the governments have failed to provide either public apologies or compensation for the harms inflicted upon Romani women.

During a panel discussion at the Congress on the issue, the survivors informed women’s rights activists, academics and politicians about the coercive sterilisation of Romani women in Central Europe, generating an invigorating discussion, with women from around the world sharing their knowledge about similar abuses elsewhere.

The coerced sterilisation of Romani women in Central Europe was highlighted in the concluding session of the Congress and will feature in the concluding recommendations coming out of the Congress, at: http://www.mmww08.org/. The issue is also featured in the documentary film, “Trial of a Child Denied” by Mortal Coil Media, which aired on CNN between 9 and 13 July (for a link to the film please see here.

The survivors gained much strength from the strong support they received from NGOs and human rights advocates from around the world during the Congress. “Don’t give up, fight on,” is the message that Elena Gorolova, spokesperson for the Group of Women Harmed by Coercive Sterilisation, would like to send to all who demand redress for the harms they have suffered.

The letters of support for the survivors to the Czech, Hungarian and Slovak governments are available for download on the ERRC’s website, together with comprehensive information about the practice and the Congress. See: http://www.errc.org/cikk.php?cikk=2965.



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