On the last Friday of each month, ten Romany women congregate in the offices of Life Together to share stories about the manner in which Czech officials have lied and brutalized them because they are of Romany backgrounds. They insist they were sterilized at a hospital after giving birth and no one told them what was happening. Since 2004, the Sterilized Women’s Association(SSZ) has been engaged in legal action to win them compensation for the procedures. SSZ director Elena Gorolova said ‘the going was slow and we were all feeling really drained,” but on October 12 a Czech court awarded monetary damages to one of the women. Iveta Cervenakova, was 19 and was waiting in the hospital for a C-section. “I spent the whole night waiting for the C-section, but they did not give me the form until right before the operation. At that time I had no idea what sterilization meant.” It took months before a doctor told her she no longer could have children that realization of what had happened finally entered her consciousness.
Ironically, such procedures were common when communists controlled the Czech Republic, but the arrival of democracy has not changed attitudes toward Romanys. Prejudice and bigotry are alive and well in post communist nations as far as hatred toward Romanys is concerned.