VC v. Slovakia: A Step Toward Justice for Roma Women
Open Society Foundation Blog, November 18, 2011
Posted: 17 Apr 2012
Date Written: November 18, 2011
In a groundbreaking decision, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that forced sterilization is a violation of the European Convention on Human Rights (specifically Article 3, which prohibits torture or inhuman and degrading treatment, and Article 8, which protects the right to private and family life). This long-awaited judgment in the case of VC v Slovakia is a step forward for efforts to bring justice to the potentially thousands of Roma women who were sterilized without their consent in Central and Eastern Europe. The extent of the abuse was first exposed in detail in the 2003 report, Body and Soul: Forced Sterilization and Other Assaults on Roma Reproductive Freedom in Slovakia.
VC, a Romani woman, was forcibly sterilized in a state hospital in Eastern Slovakia during a cesarean section. While she was in the height of labor, hospital staff insisted that she sign a consent form for sterilization, without informing her about what the procedure entailed. She was only told that a future pregnancy could kill her and was pressured to immediately undergo the procedure. VC did not understand what she was agreeing to but fearing for her life, she signed the form.
Keywords: European Convention on Human Rights, European Court of Human Rights, forced sterilization, human rights, public health, reproductive rights, Roma, Slovakia, women
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