Roma social worker fights forced sterilization in Czechia

Elena Gorolova was listed on an annual "BBC list of 100 most influential women of the year" for her work on behalf of Roma women, as well as her efforts to return institutionalized children to their families.

Sofija Kordic
Sofija Kordic NewsMavens, Czechia
Roma social worker fights forced sterilization in Czechia - NewsMavens
Elena Gorolová, YouTube

Why this story matters:

Elena Gorolova was sterilized without her knowledge in 1990 at the age of 21.

Most forced sterilization in Czechoslovakia was carried out from 1970-1990 under pressure by social workers and medicine professionals, who acted within the framework of the country's policy against its "high and unhealthyt birth-rate.

The victims of forced sterilization were mostly Roma women but also those who were mentally ill or institutionalized women. 

The practice of forced sterilization continued unofficially until 2007, when the last publicly known case of illegal sterilization was performed.

Women gave their "consent" for ligation of their ovaries mostly because of threats by social workers which included taking away their children or a loss of social benefits.

Others gave consent just before delivering, under the influence of pain, and without information. That is what happened to Elena Gorolova.

Details from the story:

  • Since 2012, due to Gorolova and her colleagues’ efforts, a seven-day waiting period must pass before a woman gives her consent for sterilization, and she must be informed about all the consequences of the procedure.
  • Grolova has spoken about forced sterilizations all around the world, including to the UN in Geneva.
  • Despite calls from human right organizations, the UN and the Council of Europe, Czechia hasn’t compensated any of the women who were forcibly sterilized.
  • Gorolova is also campaigning against the separation of Roma women in Czech maternity hospitals and the different behaviour of the hospital staff towards them.
  • That’s the reason most of them leave the hospital immediately after the birth, against medical advice.

Project #Femfacts co-financed by European Commission Directorate-General for Communications Networks, Content and Technology as part of the Pilot Project – Media Literacy For All

The information and views set out on this website are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official opinion of the European Union. Neither the European Union institutions and bodies nor any person acting on their behalf may be held responsible for the use which may be made of the information contained therein.

NewsMavens is a media start-up within Gazeta Wyborcza, Poland's largest liberal broadsheet published by Agora S.A. NewsMavens is currently financed by Gazeta Wyborcza and Google DNI Fund.
Is something happening in your country that Newsmavens should cover?
Zuzanna Ziomecka
Zuzanna Ziomecka EDITOR IN CHIEF
Lea Berriault-Jauvin
Lea Berriault Managing Editor
Jessica Sirotin
Jessica Sirotin EDITOR
Ada Petriczko
Ada Petriczko EDITOR
Gazeta Wyborcza, Agora SA Czerska 8/10 00-732, Warsaw Poland
The e-mail addresses provided above are not intended for recruitment purposes. Messages concerning recruitment will be deleted immediately. Your personal data provided as part of your correspondence with Zuzanna,Lea, Jessica and Ada will be processed for the purpose of resolving the issue you contacted us about. The data provided in your email is controlled by Agora S.A. with its registered office in Warsaw Czerska 8/10 Street (00-732). You can find more information about the processing and protection of your personal data at