20-year-old V.C. was rushed to hospital with severe labour pains in 2000. On arrival, she was told that she would have to have her baby by Caesarean section.
Doctors warned V.C. that she or her baby would die if she were to fall pregnant again. In acute pain, and terrified that her next pregnancy would be fatal, V.C. said: “Do what you want to do.”
She signed a form, which hospital staff took as her agreeing to undergo sterilisation – even though V.C did not understand what sterilisation meant.
The procedure was carried out immediately and V.C. was made infertile.
The words “Patient is of Roma origin” were recorded in V.C.’s medical file. Whilst in hospital, she was placed in a room for Roma women only and she was not allowed to use the same toilets as non-Roma patients.
V.C.’s physical and mental health quickly deteriorated because of her infertility. Her marriage broke down and she was shunned by her community.
V.C. was shocked to learn that sterilisation is not generally considered as life-saving surgery, and that other Roma women in Slovakia claimed that they had also been forcibly sterilised. Some of these claims went back decades.