On Thursday, the High Court in Prague awarded compensation to two women, one of them a Romany sterilized without her knowledge in 2003, the other a non-Romany whose fallopian tubes were removed without her consent in 2006. The ruling confirmed a previous verdict – the first of its kind – and raised the amount originally awarded. Gwendolyn Albert, a human rights activist and expert on the issue, discusses the verdict.
On Thursday, the Supreme Court in Prague ruled that two women, who were sterilized without their knowledge, should receive hundreds of thousands of crowns in compensation. According to the League of Human Rights, the doctors who sterilized the two patients were trying to prevent serious health complications but didn’t offer them the chance to make a decision about their own health. Under the communist regime and even into the late 90s, women predominantly of Roma origin were sometimes sterilized against their will and the Minister of Human Rights and Minorities Michael Kocáb said that new measures will prevent such incidents from happening in the future.
Human rights campaigners won an important moral victory on Monday when the government of Jan Fischer expressed regret over the forced sterilization of women, almost all of them members of the country’s Roma minority. No reliable figures exist for the numbers of women sterilized, but what’s alarming is that according to human rights groups, the practice continues in isolated cases to this day.
A week after Ottawa brought back visas for Czech citizens over the large numbers of Czech Romanies seeking asylum in Canada, the Czech government put out a report on the state of Romany communities in the Czech Republic for 2008. The report is bleak: Czech-Romany relations are bad, it says, and will be difficult to fix.
The Czech Republic has recently been criticized by the Council of Europe for surgically castrating sex offenders. Last year, the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment visited several of the country’s psychiatric wards and prisons. In its report, the committee called surgical castration a degrading form of treatment, and recommended that Czech authorities abandon it. But most Czech sexologists and health care professionals disagree. They believe that surgical castration is the most effective
The Czech Constitutional Court rejected on Monday a complaint by a Romany
woman who underwent forced sterilization in an Ostrava hospital in 1997.
Iveta Červeňáková, who was 21 at the time, complained about a decision
by the police to shelve a criminal case against two of the hospital’s
physicians. The Court said none of her constitutional rights were
by that decision.
Ms Červeňáková was sterilized in the Ostrava Municipal Hospital in 1997, after giving birth to her second child. A local court awarded her 500,000 crowns, or more than 22,000 US dollars, in damages, but a higher court said last year her claim was covered by the statute of limitations.
A court in Prague handed down an unusual verdict on Monday in the case of a woman who became pregnant despite having been sterilised. The Central Bohemia Regional court, which is located in Prague, ordered a hospital in Kutná Hora to pay 30,000 crowns – that’s about 1,500 U.S. dollars – to the woman, who became pregnant a year after being sterilised at Kutná Hora hospital four years ago.
A woman who was told she had been sterilised is seeking damages from a hospital in Liberec, Northern Bohemia, after giving birth to a healthy child. Šarka Doušová is asking for 250,000 CZK (nearly 15,500 USD) in damages after having suffered health problems as a result of the pregnancy. Ms Doušová was sterilised by the hospital after a road accident, when she was told that it would be dangerous for her to have any more children. But two months after the operation she fell unexpectedly pregnant and went on to have the child. The hospital in question has been unwilling to settle out of court as it says that Ms Doušová’s sterilisation failed because there was a problem with the method of surgery, and not the doctors performing the operation. The case will now be brought to a regional court.
A regional court has ordered Ostrava City Hospital to pay 500,000 crowns (almost 26,000 USD) in compensation to Iveta Cervenakova, a 30-year-old Romany woman, who was involuntarily sterilised by the hospital ten years ago. Her lawyer has pointed out this is the first time a Czech court has ruled in favour of financial compensation for involuntary sterilisation. In the case, the hospital defended its actions by saying it had Mrs Cervenakova's written consent, given after the birth of her second child by caesarean section. But the court found that medical staff did not proceed correctly in her case and there was no documentation in her medical file to prove that she had agreed with the sterilisation procedure.