Czech Republic must compensate victims of forced sterilisation, says United Nations

United Nations Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW Committee) have released findings on women's rights in the Czech Republic. The expert committee has called upon the Government to take action to ensure victims of forced sterilisation can obtain redress. They said action was also needed to ensure the "family and reproductive rights" of women with disabilities.


Earlier this year, MDAC and FORUM sent information to the CEDAW Committee which highlighted a number of issues on mistreatment and discrimination against women with disabilities in the Czech Republic. One of the concerns raised was the practice of forced sterilisation, which was an officially sanctioned policy prior to the transition to democracy in former Czechoslovakia.

For women with disabilities, forced sterilisation continues to be legal in the Czech Republic where women under guardianship can still be subjected to it without their consent. The Czech Government has yet to release detailed information regarding victims of the policy, or statistics on how many women with disabilities under guardianship have undergone sterilisation since the transition to democracy.

In delivering their conclusions, the Committee told the Czech Government to establish a compensation scheme for victims of forced sterilisation. The Committee also urged the Government to “adequately punish” perpetrators. MDAC and FORUM pointed out in their submission to the Committee that there had been a lack of effort to find victims with disabilities. MDAC therefore welcomes the Committee’s recommendations to the Government to assemble an “independent committee” whose task would be to identify victims affected by forced sterilisation, and to “support ongoing outreach to all potential applications for compensation”.

MDAC calls on the Czech Government to abolish legislation which allows for sterilisation of women with disabilities without their fully informed consent.

We also welcome the CEDAW Committee’s recommendation to the Czech Republic to repeal legislation which interferes with women’s decision-making and family rights. Moreover, the CEDAW Committee also recommended that the Czech Government take measures to ensure disadvantaged groups of women, including women with disabilities, are no longer discriminated against in various other areas of life, by ensuring their participation in decision-making, access to education, employment and health.

Today MDAC joins the world in celebrating International Women’s Day. We call on the Government of the Czech Republic to show their commitment to the rights of women with disabilities in concrete terms and to act on the CEDAW Committee's recommendations without delay.


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