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Press releases

Violations of Women’s and Newborns’ Rights in Childbirth Getting Worse in Slovak Hospitals during Pandemic

ODZ + ŽK, 29. 10. 2020

Slovak non-governmental organisations Občan, demokracia a zodpovednosť (Citizen, Democracy and Accountability, CDA) and Ženské kruhy (Women’s Circles) warn of the increasing number of violations of the human rights of women and newborns in childbirth in Slovak hospitals during the current pandemic crisis. The separation of mothers from their newborns is one of the most severe forms of these violations. The organisations urgently stress that healthcare facilities and the state must ensure that childbirth care is provided in compliance with human rights and medical standards even in this complicated situation.

CDA and Women’s Circles had already warned of the deteriorating situation with respect to the violations of the rights of women and children in birthing facilities during the first wave of the pandemic. The same was observed in the second wave as well. “For example, newborn babies continue to be separated from their mothers, and this practice gets even worse if the woman giving birth has tested positive for COVID-19 or shows its typical symptoms. In a number of cases, women with COVID-19 have been discharged from hospital the next day after giving birth, but their babies remained in the hospital without any contact with their mothers whatsoever. There are also cases where parents have no contact with their infants kept at intensive care units for several days or even weeks. Continue reading

Joint civil society statement on COVID-19 and abortion

NGOs, 23. 4. 2020

Today, we addressed the president of the SR, the president of the Slovakian parliament and the prime minister an appeal not to misuse the current COVID-19 pandemic for further restrictions in women´s human rights in the area of sexual and reproductive health. On the contrary, it is necessary to  guarantee their safe and timely access to essential sexual and reproductive health services, goods, and information in this situation.
The Joint civil society statement (8 April 2020):

European governments must ensure safe and timely access to abortion care during the COVID-19 pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic and public health crisis is presenting grave challenges for health care systems across Europe. As European countries work to address the pandemic, protect their populations, and meet the increased demand on health care workers and health care facilities it is vital that they adopt measures to safeguard the health, human dignity, physical and mental integrity, and reproductive autonomy of women and girls in the region. Continue reading

Appeal for compliance with healthcare standards in childbirth during the COVID-19 pandemic

ODZ + ŽK, 30. 3. 2020

An open letter to relevant government & public authorities, institutions and health care facilities

Non-governmental organisations Ženské kruhy (Women’s Circles) and Občan, demokracia a zodpovednosť (Citizen, Democracy and Accountability) have for several years been documenting violations of women’s human rights during childbirths in Slovak hospitals. Health care provided to women in connection with childbirth is emergency medical care and its provision must be in line with the relevant standards, even at a time of epidemics. Pregnant and birthing women represent a specific group of vulnerable population which deserves special attention. However, the relevant government institutions and the measures they have adopted so far pay almost no attention to the situation of pregnant and birthing women.
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

At U.N. Human Rights Council, Slovakia announces plan to increase access to modern contraceptives

CDA – CRR – FoCh, 7. 7. 2014

At the close of its Universal Periodic Review (UPR) by the United Nations Human Rights Council, the Slovak government has made a commitment to broaden access to modern contraceptives for all women. The UPR is part of a regular assessment of United Nations member states’ compliance with international human rights obligations.

The Center for Reproductive Rights and Slovak NGOs Citizen, Democracy, and Accountability and Freedom of Choice submitted a joint letter to the Human Rights Council addressing the human rights violations experienced by Slovak women and adolescent girls because of the inaccessibility of the full range of reproductive health services, including safe abortion, contraceptive services, and information and sexuality education.

The organizations welcome the decision of the Slovak government to accept the UPR recommendation to increase access to contraceptive methods for all women, including by covering them under public health insurance. At the moment, the cost of contraceptives and the fact that they are not subsidized through public health insurance makes them inaccessible for many women. In 2011, a legislative ban on contraceptive public health insurance coverage was introduced.  This ban prohibits modern contraceptives from being covered under public health insurance if they are used solely to prevent unintended pregnancies. Continue reading