When Helena Ferenciková was 19 years old and in the throes of labour with her first child, she was told to sign a document. Only afterwards did she realise she had authorised her own sterilisation. Eleven years previously, the same happened to Elena Gorolová. Both women are now fighting for justice.
As Roma women, they face the hardships common to Roma communities throughout Europe as well as the difficulties of their own cultural norms which value a woman’s fertility above all else. With the Czech media demonising them as liars, parasites and trouble makers, and their own family alarmed at the attention, they struggle on. Helena has chosen legal action, and became the first Roma woman to win a case against the hospital that sterilised her and Elena addresses international audiences to ensure this never happens again.
Helena and Elena’s situations are a microcosm for the multiple sources of social injustice facing the Czech Republic’s Roma community. Through their poignant and unnerving stories, this film unearths the shocking anachronism of the practice of forced sterilisation that continued long after the Communist mandate.
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