Securing Justice: Sexual and Reproductive Rights of Marginalised Groups

Recently, the European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC) hosted a strategy workshop on sexual and reproductive rights for marginalised groups, with support from MDAC and Open Society Foundations (OSF). 

MDAC Litigation Director, Ann Campbell (middle), during her talk. © MDAC.

The two-day event, held in central Budapest, brought together activists and human rights NGOs from around the world, including the League of Human Rights from the Czech Republic, and the South African Litigation Centre. The workshop was an opportunity for lawyers and other experts to discuss legal advocacy strategies for securing the sexual and reproductive rights for Roma women and women with mental health issues. Themes included gaining recognition for past wrongs such as government policies of forced sterilisation and abortions, the use of contraceptives without consent, and other invasive practices.

Prior to the fall of communism, a number of countries in Central and Eastern Europe had policies of forcibly sterilising women from marginalised communities without their consent. Groups including ERRC have been advocating for official recognition of these abusive practices, and the provision of compensation and reparations for victims.   

MDAC’s Litigation Director Ann Campbell, and lawyers Oana Girlescu and Maroš Matiaško, delivered presentations about how strategic litigation and advocacy can, and has been used to secure equality and justice for people with disabilities. Dialogue also focused on forced sterilisation of women with mental disabilities, without any formal process or consent required – a practice which MDAC strongly condemns (see, for example, our recent alternative report with Kenyan partners to the UN disability rights committee).

Commenting after the two-day workshop, ERRC’s Legal Director Adam Weiss said:

“Romani women and women with disabilities both suffer reproductive rights violations that stem from the same discriminatory mentalities and structures. This was a great opportunity for us to move beyond that simple fact and see how we can work together to advance the movements to secure rights for both groups and others.” 

MDAC is committed to challenging such forms of torture and ill-treatment against people with disabilities, and is pleased to have collaborated with ERRC and OSF on this neglected yet widespread issue.



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