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Mistreatment and violence against women during reproductive health care with a focus on childbirth

ODZ + ZK, 20. 5. 2019

Here below, find the Joint submission to the Special Rapporteur on violence against women by our NGO Občan, demokracia a zodpovednosť (Citizen, Democracy and Accountability) and Ženské kruhy (Women’s Circles), May 2019:

Občan, demokracia a zodpovednosť (Citizen, Democracy and Accountability – CDA) and Ženské kruhy (Women’s Circles) present this submission to the Special Rapporteur on violence against women for its consideration in the context of Mistreatment and violence against women during reproductive health care with a focus on childbirth.

CDA (www.odz.sk) is an independent civic association that promotes the values of open society based on civic responsibility and the accountability of public authorities. One of CDA’s primary aims is to assert everyone’s rights to human dignity and to protection from discrimination, as well as to assert the human rights of women. Women’s circles (www.zenskekruhy.sk) is an independent civic association focusing on the field of maternity care and the rights therein. One of the goals is that respect, dignity and the freedom of choice for women in pregnancy and childbirth would become self-evident. Continue reading

Istanbul ratification still nowhere in sight

The Slovak Spectator, 19. 4. 2018

The international document preventing violence against women was one of the reasons why a former justice minister left the government.

Thousands of people protested against the international convention to prevent violence against women, but the government ratified it anyway. That is last week’s news from Croatia, where the protest in the city of Split on April 12 did not stop the parliament from giving the green light to the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, better known as the Istanbul Convention. Slovakia signed the convention under the government of Iveta Radičová in 2011 but the governments that followed, all led by Smer, have been reluctant to ratify the document, along with nine other EU countries. Continue reading

Individualized, supportive care key to positive childbirth experience, says WHO

WHO, 15. 2. 2018

WHO has issued new recommendations to establish global care standards for healthy pregnant women and reduce unnecessary medical interventions. Worldwide, an estimated 140 million births take place every year. Most of these occur without complications for women and their babies. Yet, over the past 20 years, practitioners have increased the use of interventions that were previously only used to avoid risks or treat complications, such as oxytocin infusion to speed up labour or caesarean sections.

“We want women to give birth in a safe environment with skilled birth attendants in well-equipped facilities. However, the increasing medicalization of normal childbirth processes are undermining a woman’s own capability to give birth and negatively impacting her birth experience,” says Dr Princess Nothemba Simelela, WHO Assistant Director-General for Family, Women, Children and Adolescents. “If labour is progressing normally, and the woman and her baby are in good condition, they do not need to receive additional interventions to accelerate labour,” she says. Continue reading

WOMEN – MOTHERS – BODIES II: Systemic aspects of violations of women’s human rights in birth care provided in healthcare facilities in Slovakia

ODZ, 8. 2. 2018

Women – Mothers – Bodies II: Systemic Aspects of Violations of Women’s Human Rights in Birth Care Provided in Healthcare Facilities in Slovakia is a second publication jointly released by Slovak NGOs Občan, demokracia a zodpovednosť (Citizen, Democracy and Accountability) and Ženské kruhy (Women’s Circles) as a result of their long-term cooperation. The book is a sequel to Women – Mothers – Bodies: Women’s Human Rights in Obstetric Care in Healthcare Facilities in Slovakia that gave pilot insights into the violations of women’s human rights in Slovak birthing facilities from the perspective of women as rights holders. Continue reading

Issue Paper: Women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights in Europe

Commissioner for Human Rights, 4. 12. 2017

The summary of the Issue Paper on women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights released by Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Nils Muižnieks:
 
WOMEN’S SEXUAL AND REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS IN EUROPE: WHY WE NEED TO ACT NOW

Women’s rights are human rights. Under international human rights law, women have the right to a safe sexual and reproductive life, free from coercion. In the past decades, considerable progress has been achieved in Europe in that direction. Yet, women continue to face widespread denials and violations of their sexual and reproductive rights. Laws, policies and practices, underpinned by pervasive gender stereotypes and inequality, still curtail and undermine women’s sexual and reproductive health, autonomy, dignity, integrity and decision-making in serious ways. Moreover in recent years, resurgent threats have emerged in this field jeopardising longstanding commitments to gender equality and women’s rights. Continue reading

Commissioner for Human Rights: Progress needed to ensure women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights in Europe

Commissioner for Human Rights, 4. 12. 2017

“Women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights are human rights. Regrettably, however, women in Europe still have these rights denied or restricted as a result of laws, policies and practices that ultimately reflect continuing gender stereotypes and inequalities. States must acknowledge and address these violations and resolutely commit to advancing gender equality in this crucial sphere of life”, said today Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Nils Muižnieks, while releasing a report on this topic.

The document provides an overview of states’ obligations under international and European human rights standards in the field of women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights. It provides examples of shortcomings that European states must address in particular as regards the rights to life, health, privacy, non-discrimination as well as the right to be free from torture and ill-treatment, with a particular focus on comprehensive sexuality education, modern contraception, safe and legal abortion care, and quality maternal health care. Continue reading

A Slovak Court Confirms Discrimination in Redundancy Dismissal of Top Female Researcher by National Forest Centre

CDA, 20. 3. 2017

The Zvolen District Court in Slovakia issued a long-awaited ruling on Friday, 17 March 2017, in the case of Viera Petrášová, a senior researcher and sworn expert in forestry, against her former employer, public quasi-budgetary agency National Forest Centre (Národné lesnícke centrum – NLC). The court ruled that the NLC’s 2009 decision on her dismissal was invalid, including for being discriminatory. Viera Petrášová (the “applicant”) has been represented in the proceedings pending before courts since 2009 by our NGO Citizen, Democracy and Accountability (CDA).

The decision is groundbreaking because, despite antidiscrimination legislation being in place in Slovakia since 2004, there are still precious few cases when courts have decided about discrimination against women on grounds of sex and gender. This, however, does not mean there are few women subject to discrimination, quite the contrary.

The ruling is notable for examining the discrimination against a female employee of a public research institution regarding several aspects. For example, one such interesting aspect concerns the allowance in public institutions of opportunities for employees to submit and coordinate outside projects often funded by public resources (including EU funds); in other words, an opportunity for the employees’ further career growth and, quite often, better pay. The court also comments on employers’ obligation to prevent discrimination – a very rare, yet progressive approach in Slovakia. Continue reading

Commissioner Nils Muižnieks: Protect women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights

The Council of Europe, 22. 7. 2016

The Commissioner for Human Rights Nils Muižnieks released human rights comment on women´s sexual and reproductive health and rights yesterday (21. 7.). We appreciate that among other, he refers to the research report elaborated by CDA WOMEN – MOTHERS – BODIES as well as concluding observations of the CEDAW Committee we contributed to.

In these times of resurgent threats to women’s rights and gender equality, we must redouble our efforts to protect women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights. Among the international and European legal instruments that protect these rights, the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) guarantees women’s rights to decide freely and responsibly about the number and spacing of their children and to have access to information, education and means to enable them to exercise these rights. Continue reading

Advocating for systemic changes towards protection of human rights of women with the emphasis on reproductive rights

From January 2016 till December 2017, we have been implementing the project Advocating for systemic changes towards protection of human rights of women with the emphasis on reproductive rights. The project is supported by Open Society Foundation (New York), within its program Human Rights Initiative 2014. The project comprises advocacy activities aimed at systemic changes towards protection of human rights of women mainly in the field of reproductive rights and the human rights of women in general. All of the activities present a continuation of CDA´s long-lasting efforts and achievements in this field. The issues dealt with include access to contraceptives, access to abortion services, and violations of women´s human rights in childbirth.  Continue reading

“Mrs Mária” is not Mária and she will not vote in Slovakia

The Slovak Spectator, 16. 2. 2016

A stolen photo of a woman taken in New York has been used for calling on people to go to the ballot box in the upcoming election.

An anonymous online leaflet with a photo of an older lady and a question: Do you want Mrs Mária to decide about your future? calls for participation in March parliamentary elections. With rigidly clenched lips and a slightly restrained look, Mrs Mária is not smiling in the photo. She is dressed fittingly for the season in a winter coat; and in a fur cap she looks determined. She will apparently go to cast her vote and ruin the future of young people. This is the basic message of the pre-election online leaflet that started spreading over the internet during recent days. Continue reading