April 20, 2024

Czech Gypsies demand apology for forced sterilisations

The Czech ombudsman is examining the stories of more than 60 Roma (Gypsy) women who complain that doctors sterilised them against their will. Large families are common amongst the Roma and infertility is shameful for both men and women. Often partners deserted women who had been sterilised against their will. Under the Communists doctors routinely sterilised Roma women to eliminate “undesirables”. But the alarming feature of these complaints is that they happened after the “Velvet Revolution” and the restoration of democracy. Often, the Roma women claim, doctors and social workers would get them to sign consent forms while they were still befuddled by anaesthetic. Many of the women were illiterate and could not understand the forms in any case. Sometimes doctors actually lied, telling them that sterilisation could be reversed later on by injecting drugs. “Our doctors often just act without asking the patient’s opinion,” an official from the ombudsman’s office told the Observer. “This is a big problem in our society.”