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Reproductive Rights violations in Croatia spark protests


Report from the protest action „Stop the silence!“ – reading of women’s testimonials

 „15.3.2017, Vukovar Hospital. Curettage without anesthesia, even though I had asked for anasthesia for mental distress. My pregnancy was in its tenth month, my heart stopped…They held me by the hands, legs and head, the doctor said I was spoiled because I was crying. The complaint to the director was rejected without excuse, all that remained was the pain.”

 „In the Split Clinical Hospital, Dr. Karelović performed a cervical biopsy on me without anesthesia while loud classical music played in the background. In reaction to my pain, he said, „What are you going to jump out the window?“ I gave birth twice, but nothing compares to that pain.“

On Friday, October 19th at 9am, in front of the Croatian Parliament, activists from the association ‘Parents in Action –RODA’ and other organizations dedicated to women’s health and women’s rights read these and twenty other testimonials of women from all parts of Croatia. The testimonials spoke about the humiliation, pain, callousness and inadequate medical procedures they endured, endangering their mental and physical health and permanently deepening their distrust of the health system. The testimonials will be read in public spaces on Friday, October 19th and Saturday, October 20th in Zagreb (Friday at 10am at the Flower Square, and the Square of Ban Jelačić), in Rijeka (Friday at 11am at the Korza by Radio Rijeka), in Koprivnica (Friday at 10am at the Zrinski Square), and in Pula (Saturday at 10am at the Portarata), as an additional warning to decision-makers that the time has finally come for the systematic protection of women from the reproductive violence they have endured in the public health system for years. Even though women’s experiences are once again in the media and public spotlight, there can be no change without political action.

The ‘Parents in Action – RODA’ association calls for the urgent adoption of a Woman’s Health Action Plan which will include enforcement monitoring measures and adequate budget funds so that the power of these women’s words can finally be channeled into actions, and so that women across the country are protected from humiliation, discrimination and reproductive violence. Women have the constitutional and legal right to quality healthcare services within the public health system – based on the principles of humanity, availability and patient co-decision making – which they pay for through health insurance and taxes. “Because of the experiences and trauma of all of us, thousands and thousands of women, we are calling for the adoption of this Action Plan right away, and by December 10th, 2018, the International Day of Human Rights. This Action Plan does not require any exceptional actions, only the systematic application of existing legal provisions, with strong and independent quality control measures, as well as measures for the prevention and sanctioning of abuse in healthcare. This is the only way that Croatia can in practice, and not merely declaratively, be ranked alongside the European countries with which it frequently likes to compare itself with in terms of the quality of healthcare provided,” said Branka Mrzić Jagatić from the RODA association. A letter of support for the protest action “Stop the Silence!” was sent by the renowned gynecologist Dr. Jasenka Grujić Koračin, emphasizing that: “These latest events, that make me so sad and embarrassed, ashamed, are proof that in Croatia, declarations of human rights and women’s right and only formally respected.  The stigmatization and insults that women who are determined to defend their autonomy and privacy endure has spread to other areas, and to nearly all gynecological-obstetric activities. The state of medicine is a copy of the state of Croatian society that has become intolerant to others and to those who are different, and to women, which discriminates against women in relation to their reproductive function, and in that way is typical of clerical-conservative societies. This is not about the individual excesses of individuals without manners, this is about a real discriminatory and misogynistic process that we must resist together.”

Watch the film on the situation in Croatia on You Tube and click here and here for media releases.

For any further information or statements, please contact Ivana Zanze, Roda association, cell phone: +385 (0) 91 586 3717, e-mail: ivana.zanze@gmail.com

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