(54# Czech Republic) Elena Gorolová: Why she kicks ass
“Everything is possible, where there is a will”
- She is the spokesperson for the Group of Women Harmed by Forced Sterilization in the Czech Republic, who has broken not only Czech but also Roma gender stereotypes, by speaking out in public about her experience as a survivor of forced sterilisation and advocating for redress. Her efforts have brought this issue visible at the local, national, and international levels; and were further recognised when the Government of the Czech Republic acknowledged these harms in 2009.
- She is also the coordinator of the Human Rights Team of the Ostrava-based nonprofit organization Vzájemné soužití (Life Together) and civil society member of the Czech Government Council for Roma Community Affairs, and is a well known speaker to the UN.
- To this day, she has a bitter memory of the critical moment in the delivery room when health care workers gave her a paper to sign and said “Sign this or you will die.” “No one told me what it meant, I was young,” says Gorolová. Doctors sterilised her in 1990 at the age of 21. The doctors decided to sterilise her in the course of her second Caesarean delivery. Two or more Caesarean deliveries, was the most frequent reason cited as a precedent to sterilise.
- However, the women harmed by these sterilisations say the problem is that they never gave their informed consent to the surgery, nor were they given any information about sterilisation and what it really meant. Elena is one of eighty-seven (87) women who sent complaints of being forcibly sterilised to the Czech Public Defender of Rights (the ombudsman). In December 2005, in his Final Statement on this issue, the ombudsman accepted that sterilisations performed on Romani women during the communist era had been of a eugenic nature. Both his report and cases litigated by the League of Human Rights now show that illegal sterilisations have continued up until today.
- “After our demonstrations, the women had to deal with many local papers writing untrue articles about them,” she said. “On how they were perceived by neighbours, alleging that they owed money, or did not pay rent, or comparing the difference between the states of mind of Romani and non-Romani women when consenting to sterilization.” But the changes they have won have been rewarding. The term “informed consent” is now a part of the vocabulary at hospitals and more women have been coming forward to share their experiences.
- “The nurse told me that previously the method had been to tie the tubes, but that some women had become pregnant despite this,” she said. “They didn’t want any more Roma children to be born…I have experienced discrimination since I was a child…they just don’t like the Roma people.”
- She strives to create friendly platforms for communication between Roma and non-Roma in Ostrav, and to improve the living conditions of families in need.
- On the occasion of Elena Gorolová’s presentation in the UN Committee on 17th August, the Human Rights Team at Life Together organised two significant events: a peaceful meeting in Ostrava and an opening ceremony at the Brno-based Museum of Romani Culture.
Blaming Roma for everything from petty crime to trash on the streets, thousands of supporters of the far-right opposition Jobbik party rallied in Hungary on Wednesday in the eastern city of Miskolc.
Local Roma in Hungary’s second largest city simultaneously held a counter-rally rejecting what they said were typical right-wing slurs while police kept the two sides apart, preventing serious clashes.
“Jobbik will help those who build Hungary, no matter their color,” party chairman Gabor Vona told about 3,000 supporters. “But we will go after those who destroy and won’t let them be!”…
“I can’t live in this area anymore like this,” said Jobbik protester Tamas Kormendi, 25, who is unemployed.
“Not a day goes by without some incident that turns my stomach. These gypsies live like pigs and I swear they like it. Well, they will not like it for long if it’s up to me.”
Serbia has given a confused response to British charges of racism at an England-Serbia football match in Krusevac with the sports minister promising an investigation and the local football association flatly denying the charges.
Alisa Maric, Serbia’s Minister for Sport and Youth, condemned the fans’ behaviour at Krusevac, where black players were whistled at, subjected to monkey chants and had objects hurled at them.
“I strongly oppose any form of violence and discrimination, especially at sporting events,” Maric said in a statement…
The Serbian Football Association, FSS, meanwhile issued a statement denying any racist outbursts at the match on Tuesday.
“The Serbian Football Association rejects and denies any form of racism on the stadium in Krusevac, before and during the match,” the statement reads.
“Linking the incident - a fight between members of the two teams - with racism has absolutely no basis and [we] consider it entirely malicious,” the statement added.
There’s a video at the link, so you can decide for yourself.
I was tired of seeing these but without a Romani one…
so I made one…
Firstly, I’d like to say something that will probably sound offensive.
If you don’t know anything about Romani, please don’t tell US whether we’re being oppressed or not in the country in which we live.
The United States (and Canada for that matter) are not the havens of post-Racism and post-Slavery that one would think. No, oh no. As a Romani woman who grew up in Europe and has lived in the US for the past ten years I can say, with a clear conscience that although the plight of Romani and related groups in the US is nothing like that of the European groups - it is definitely not an easy life - especially for those who are non-white passing.
Romani actively claim another ethnicity because racism and hatred against us is so strong. Dark skinned Roma will say they’re Hispanic, Native American, or some other ethnicity. I am lucky. I have light skin and light eyes. If I tell people I’m Italian or Spanish or something they usually don’t question.
That being said, oppression and racism is perpetuated against Romani in the US on a daily basis. Since there are laws which mean employers can fire you without reason, they can fire you for being Romani (and have done so). They can also make as many comments and such as they like - especially with shows like My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding and American Gypsies appropriating and misusing the word.
Both the US and Canada have very strong antiziganist feeling (as a government), but especially Canada currently, who reject 95% of all claims of Hungarian Romani seeking asylum. Our plight in Europe is not taken seriously.
I like to think of moving to the US as a step down the racism ladder. No, I don’t face as much racism on a daily basis here (unless my ethnicity becomes apparent, and then problems range from ignorant remarks, to overt hatred, and violence.
I’ve received death threats, been spat on, been accused of stealing and reported….
But no that’s not as bad as I had it in Europe.
I feel that this gives me an opportunity to use my voice. To tackle oppression and racism and the treatment of my people. I have the freedom to write openly and honestly here… To tell us to shut up or move to Europe is ridiculous.
DO you KNOW how dangerous it is to be Romani and speak out in Europe? Probably not - because you are not Romani and you have not lived in Europe.
So, please don’t hate me for having the courage to speak out despite the danger this puts me in EVEN in the US. Don’t tell me to go back there - a place where I would stand a very large chance of being viciously attacked, raped, arrested and imprisoned, or even murdered for speaking out like this.
Like I said, if you don’t know what you’re talking about,
don’t say anything
Police officers are seeking any possible witnesses to an attack committed against a 49-year-old Romani man that took place on 20 August in front of the Petr Bezruč House of Culture shortly after 21:00. Czech daily Deník reported the police announcement on 4 September.
“The assailant punched and verbally insulted the man because of his membership in an ethnic group. The victim managed to ward off some of the blows and tried to flee, but the youth caught up to him on the grass of a traffic meridian and assaulted him again, shouting racist insults once more. The aggressive youth did not stop his assault until passers-by started shouting at him. The victim has suffered a fractured fibula that will take three months to heal,” Zlatuše Viačková, spokesperson for the Havířov Police, told Deník. “A 28-year-old suspect was detained for questioning in the case, but police were unable to prove he had participated in the assault and released him from custody. A 21-year-old man was then remanded into custody on suspicion of having been the assailant. The Police Commissioner has initiated criminal proceedings against him and charged him with committing grievous bodily harm because of the victim’s actual or assumed race, membership in an ethnic group, or nationality. If convicted, he faces up to eight years in prison,” she said.
“telling people to die in gas chambers isnt cool” has got to be the most understated tag I have ever seen on this site. But anyway SIGNAL BOOST
http://rynvera.tumblr.com/ has now told someone to “go die in a gas chamber.” This, in my opinion, is grounds for mass emails to tumblr to tell them this young woman needs to go.
If you would like to report her, I have made it easy.
Send an email to email@example.com and attach the images in this post.
The Czech online daily Deník.cz has reported on the case of the Ferenc family, Romani people who until recently were living in the town of Ivanovice na Hané. The owner of the building in which they rented an apartment there told them they had to move out because he had fallen into debt and would be demolishing the building. Today the Ferenc family is living in the Hamiltony neighborhood of the town of Vyškov, where their non-Romani neighbors have complained to the local planning committee about them.
The Ferenc family supposedly had three months in which to move away from Ivanovice. “In reality they had less time than that, because the family has small children who are supposed to attend school in September, so they needed to resolve their housing situation before then. The family’s daughter-in-law is also in an advanced stage of pregnancy,” said Zdenka Jelínková, a field social worker with the IQ Roma servis organization.
It was not easy to find substitute accommodation for the many members of the Romani family. “Because of prejudice, people often shrink from offering accommodation to Romani renters. We unfortunately address this regularly,” Jelínková noted.
The Ferenc family say they were under pressure from their landlord to move out. “I learned from more than one source that the landlord was under pressure from the town leadership to evict us. People were bothered by our children sitting in front of the building or listening to music with the windows open,” said Eva Ferencová.
The family finally rented substitute accommodation from Věra Georgiová in the Hamiltony neighborhood of Vyškov. “I didn’t know the family beforehand at all. It wasn’t until later that I discovered that their youngest daughter goes to school in Bohdalice, where I teach. I told them what the rent would be and asked for a deposit in advance. We came to an agreement about everything and were able to meet each other halfway,” said Georgiová.
The new landlady was aware of the risks connected with renting to a Romani family. “I already had one Romani family in the building once before and it bothered the locals then too. My husband is Bulgarian, so through him I have encountered racism my entire life, but I will never give in to it. I really do not understand some people’s opinions,” Georgiová says.
Complaints against the new tenants surfaced almost immediately. “Various rumors started to spread. At a meeting of the local planning committee I overheard, for example, that at least 30 Romani people were going to move into Ms Georgiová’s building and that the town was somehow involved,” said Alena Hudcová, the chair of the local planning committee .
Authorities never confirmed the information, so Hudcová took no notice of it. “After some time, a colleague from the committee came to me and said his neighbors were coming to him to complain, telling him the same rumor I had previously heard. I immediately contacted the vice-mayor of Vyškov, and he of course resolutely refuted the entire matter,” said Hudcová.
Hudcová said she would not be surprised if a petition asking the Ferenc family to move out were to be put together soon, “even though they only moved in on 1 August and nothing bad has happened here since then. The fact that nothing has gone wrong should calm everyone down, but it seems to me that it just irritates people instead,” Hudcová observed.
Other Hamiltony residents’ statements confirm that Hudcová’s prediction is not unfounded. “I think what everyone else thinks. That family should never have moved here. We’re all just afraid of what might start happening,” said resident Ludmila Kupčíková.
Hudcová is bothered by the fact that people are speculating about potential problems even though none currently exist. “I don’t care about skin color, people should learn to communicate with each other and live together. Problems should be resolved once they actually occur. In my opinion, problems can be averted to a significant extent through dialogue. People’s response to this situation was the last straw for me. It’s the reason I decided to resign in protest as chair of the district planning committee,” she said.
According to field social worker Jelínková, such behavior is unfortunately rare. “It is laudable that Ms Hudcová managed to show people, through her resolute attitude, that they were in fact making themselves look ridiculous,” Jelínková believes.
Despite the neighbors’ complaints, the Ferenc family is satisfied with their new home. “We like it here very much and we are grateful for this opportunity. The only thing is that I am constantly worrying about the position of the leadership of Ivanovice, because through their behavior, they have indirectly labeled all of us as inconvenient thieves. We definitely are not pleased about that,” Eva Ferencová said.
Deník.cz, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
PARIS—The French government is considering giving Bulgarian and Romanian nationals equal working rights to other Europeans in the country, after the dismantlement of Gypsy camps sparked controversy for President François Hollande and drew comparisons with the policies of his predecessor, Nicolas Sarkozy.
In the past week, French authorities have raided makeshift camps inhabited by Gypsies, also known as Roma, in Lille, Lyon and Marseille and evicted them. According to Human Rights Watch, the French government flew 240 Romanian Gypsies back to Romania on a flight last week and gave them as much as €300 ($369) each.
The raids “appear to be just the latest manifestation of France’s notorious expulsion policy targeting Eastern European Roma,” said Veronika Szente Goldston, a director at Human Rights Watch.
A French government spokeswoman said the flight was organized to transport Romanian citizens who had accepted a voluntary return to their country and wasn’t linked to the dismantled camps, which she called “illegal settlements.”
Mr. Hollande’s government will review options next week, including offering the Gypsies the same working rights as other European citizens, Interior Minister Manuel Valls said on French radio Thursday.
Mr. Hollande’s government has gone to great lengths to distinguish itself on social policy from Mr. Sarkozy, who served as interior minister before becoming president in 2007 and made law-and-order crackdowns a signature of his governing style. But breaking up Roma camps and offering financial incentives for repatriation appears to be a continuation of the initiatives of Mr. Sarkozy, whose mass expulsion of foreign Gypsies sparked an outcry in France and a row with the European Commission, the European Union’s executive arm.
At the time, European Commissioner for Justice Viviane Reding called Mr. Sarkozy’s policies and a government circular singling out Roma a disgrace and initiated legal proceedings against the country. Ms. Reding has weighed in on the latest evictions, though she has welcomed France’s cooperation and the government’s pledge not to target any particular group.
“The Commission will follow the developments in France very closely,” she wrote in an op-ed published in Thursday’s Libération. “There are 12 million Roma in Europe, who, like us, are at home in Europe. It is our responsibility to help them integrate.”
Mr. Valls has defended the continued breakup of the camps on the grounds of health and welfare concerns. “It’s a left-wing policy—respecting the law at the same time as ensuring integration and justice are a reality with schooling and work training,” he said.
In an editorial this week in Libération, Mr. Valls said passiveness is sparking the reappearance of shantytowns. The French public appears to agree: According to a survey Tuesday from pollster Ifop, 80% of French people are in favor of dismantling illegal Roma camps.
Granting Bulgarian and Romanian citizens full working rights would allow the French government to field criticism by distinguishing itself from other countries. Nine European countries now impose restrictions on Romanian workers, which European law permits them to do until the end of 2013. In France, Bulgarian and Romanian citizens must have a resident’s permit to work and for their first five years in France, their employers must seek permission to hire them.
The European Commission has long been urging countries to lift the restrictions, arguing it would help labor markets be more dynamic and wouldn’t lead to unmanageable population flows, said Commission spokesman Olivier Bailly.
“We think that these restrictions do not make sense in economic terms for the EU countries who still maintain them because we have never seen any massive influx of populations,” he said.
Studies show, for example, that Polish workers migrated to Ireland and helped to satisfy a labor shortage at the height of the country’s economic boom, but returned home when the Irish economy and the job market wilted in the crisis, a European Commission official said.
Source: The Wall Street Journal
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