‘Sign This Paper or You Will Die’

By • on April 20, 2010

Tricked into authorizing their own sterilizations, a group of Romani women in the Czech Republic have united to fight for reproductive rights.

OSTRAVA, Czech Republic | Elena Gorolova was in a great deal of pain. Nurses and doctors crowded around her, trying to insert a balloon between her legs to stop her baby from coming out so they could perform a Cesarean section. Gorolova and her husband, Bohus, a Czech Romani couple with two sons at home, were excited at the prospect of another addition to their young family.

But to the doctors, the new addition meant Gorolova’s third C-section. They told Gorolova that any more childbirths would be fatal.

They put it to her simply and suddenly: sign this paper or you will die. There was no time for questions, explanations, reflection.

Elena Gorolova

“I didn’t read it,” Gorolova explains quietly, lowering her vivid brown eyes. “I didn’t have anybody there with me. Nobody told me what was going on. I was totally out of my mind and so I just signed.”

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