Body and Soul: Forced Sterilization and Other Assaults on Roma Reproductive Freedom

Romani women in Slovakia continue to be subject to grave violations of their human rights, particularly their reproductive rights, even though a communist-era law offering monetary incentives for sterilization has been rescinded. A three-month fact-finding in late 2002 by the Center for Reproductive Rights and Poradna pre obcianske a ludské práva (Centre for Civil and Human Rights), a Slovak human rights organization, reveals that not only do coerced and forced sterilization practices continue in Slovakia, so too does the widespread abuse and discrimination against Romani women in the country's maternal health services. We conducted extensive interviews with more than 230 women in almost 40 Romani settlements throughout eastern Slovakia, the region with the highest concentration of Roma.


The interviews revealed numerous instances of coerced, forced and suspected sterilization of Romani women, along with physical and verbal abuse, racially discriminatory standards of care, misinformation in health matters, and denial of access to medical records.

The situation of Roma in Slovakia represents one of the worst throughout all of Europe. As the countries of Eastern and Central Europe transition into market economies and integrate into the European Union, their commitments to international and regional law and policy must be strengthened and demonstrated. Slovakia's entry into the community of nations requires that it adheres to human rights law and investigates, without delay, the violations being committed within its borders.  

Body and Soul: Forced Sterilization and Other Assaults on Roma Reproductive Freedom (PDF)