28 Sep 2017

Slovak politician proposes sterilization for Roma women and cannot fathom why people are outraged

Slovakia is one of the last European countries where contraceptives are not subsidized under public health insurance. And it puts them out of reach for many women. Why don’t we talk about reproductive rights for every woman instead?

Ria Gehrerová
Ria Gehrerová Denník N, Slovakia
Source: Denník N
Slovak politician proposes sterilization for Roma women and cannot fathom why people are outraged - NewsMavens
Montenegrin Roma children. US Embassy/Wikicommons

Why this story matters:

Slovak leader of the opposition Richard Sulik (SaS) thinks something is wrong with the town of  Veľká Lomnica. More specifically, he thinks that:

"...something is not ok if out of the 4550 citizens of Veľká Lomnica, 2150 are Roma [...] and that out of 86 newborns, 76 are Roma."

His post outraged many Slovak Facebook users, but his words are only the tip of the iceberg.

The main opposition party SaS (Freedom and Solidarity) is about to introduce a new reform of social policy for the Roma. The reforms contain a proposal involving free, voluntary sterilization for Roma mothers of four or more children.

Slovakia is one of the last European countries where contraceptives are not subsidized under public health insurance. And it puts them out of reach for many women. So why don’t we talk about reproductive rights  for every woman instead?

Clearly, the opposition thinks that only the Roma population should be contained.

SaS tried to clarify their opinion on the sterilization issue in a press release the next day. They claimed that: "Society is not threatened by the number of the newborn Roma children, but by the number of children who are born into the extreme poverty, where they cannot afford nutritious food, hygiene or education."

That makes sense on the surface. But the fact that the bill is part of a Roma reform says it all.

Details from the story:

  • The opposition party SaS (Freedom and Solidarity) is about to introduce a new Roma reform;
  • The reform includes a proposal for free, voluntary sterilization for mothers of four or more children;
  • Richard Sulik, the leader of SaS is already known for racist comments on migrants;
  • Contraceptives are not (even partially) subsidized under public health insurance in Slovakia;
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