Slovak Republic: Maltreatment and hospital detention of Roma women in labour

December 11, 2018

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An investigation by The Associated Press (AP) has found that women and their newborns in Slovakia are routinely, unjustifiably and illegally detained in hospitals. Especially Roma women, who are also more vulnerable to racist abuse and physical violence, are subject to this practice. In October, the AP reported that hospitals in more than 30 countries illegally hold patients when they cannot pay their bills, including in Kenya, Congo, India, the Philippines and Bolivia. While there are some differences, some experts say the situation in Slovakia — which also is seen to some extent in other eastern European countries like Bulgaria and the Czech Republic — amounts to hospital imprisonment.

“Detention in African hospitals is about money, but in Slovakia, it’s about power,” said Zuzana Kriskova, a maternal rights activist in an article in The Washington Post. “Women are having their fundamental human rights violated when they have no freedom of movement and cannot decide how their child is to be treated.”

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