Obstetric violence faced by women in Czech Republic - letter from EWL

Obstetric violence faced by women in Czech Republic - letter from EWL

4. 10. 2017

Mgr. Bohuslav Sobotka, Prime Minister, Czech Republic
Úřad vlády ČR nábřeží Edvarda Beneše 4, 118 01 Praha 1
Czech Republic

JUDr. Ing. Miloslav Ludvík, MBA, Minister of Health, Czech Republic
Ministerstvo zdravotnictví Palackého nám. 4, 128 01 Praha 2
Czech Republic Brussels, 4 October 2017

Re.: Obstetric violence faced by women in Czech Republic

Dear Prime Minister, Dear Minister Ludvík,

I am writing on behalf of the European Women’s Lobby, the largest umbrella organisation for women’s human rights in Europe. Let me express our deep concern regarding obstetric violence faced by women in Czech Republic, an issue which has been brought to our attention by our members the Czech Women’s Lobby.

In November 2016, the European Court of Human Rights invited the Czech legislature to ensure that they reflect medical and scientific developments in the field whilst fully respecting women’s rights, notably by ensuring adequate conditions for both patients and medical staff in maternity hospitals across the country. The single-option birth model envisaged by the Czech legislation at issue, which leaves expectant mothers little choice but to give birth in hospital, is considered by the European Court of Human Rights to be per se problematic. To prevent midwives from assisting women in giving birth at home, what is more, in circumstances concerning low-risk pregnancies with women who are not first-time mothers, cannot be justified in a democratic society by any convincing public-health argument.

Therefore, we call for a greater respect for women’s rights and dignity of women during pregnancy, childbirth and a postpartum period in the Czech Republic. Specifically, we call for legislative changes in the following areas:

 Strengthening the position of midwives in hospitals and promoting their autonomy as part of the education system. Continuous care provided by midwives to a woman in pregnancy, childbirth and a postpartum period as a primary care standard. Establishing midwife led birth centres. Providing professional health care in case of childbirth given at home.

 Keeping mothers and babies together as a safe and healthy birth practice in maternity hospitals.

 Raising professional and general public awareness of evidence-based practice and also awareness of legal rights.

 Ensuring a supportive care for healthcare providers (expert and psychological supervision).

 Publication of standards of care provided in obstetrics.

 Publication of quality data on provided care in obstetrics.

We earnestly hope to see that steps are taken at the earliest possible moment to improve the situation of Czech women in obstetrics, and we hope to hear back from you about our letter.

Yours sincerely,


Edith Schratzberger-Vecsei

President of the European Women´s Lobby

The letter is here