Three years is a very long time: WGNRR Stands in Solidarity with Hungarian midwife Agnes Geréb

The Women’s Global Network for Reproductive Rights (WGNRR) is concerned with the continued injustice perpetrated by the state of Hungary towards the women’s rights defender, doctor and midwife Agnes Geréb. On October 5 2013 the international community of birth rights defenders, women’s rights activists and advocates for women’s sexual and reproductive rights mark a sad three year anniversary of Agnes Geréb’s confinement. Quoting the statement by Donal Kerry, the International spokesperson for the Campaign for Justice for Dr. Agnes Geréb “Three years in confinement is a very long time. Three years in confinement when you have done nothing wrong is a very, very long time.”

 

Through nearly two decades of professional practice Dr. Agnes Geréb served the needs of women wishing to give birth undisturbed by medical interventions in the privacy of their homes and families whereas the official medical system denied the Hungarian women any real choice in birth. The Hungarian Constitution explicitly upholds the right of mothers to give birth at home since 1998. However, it was not until 2011 that the state of Hungary introduced the necessary legislation to support medical services into the home forcing independent midwives, led by Dr. Agnes Geréb to attend home births in an unlicensed capacity to ensure that parents choosing homebirth could exercise their constitutional rights.

A harsh prison sentence and 10 year ban on practicing handed down to Dr. Agnes Geréb in February 2012 could only be possible in a system that denies women’s human rights to privacy, bodily integrity and self-determination. Additionally, it is a system that discriminates not only against women’s human rights in childbirth but also against human rights defenders such as Dr. Agnes Geréb who has been singled out for abuse and mistreatment based on her work as a human rights defender and in the process her own human rights have been trampled upon and defiled.

On the 3rd year of Dr. Agnes Geréb’s confinement, WGNRR reiterate the fact that the choice of child delivery is a Human Right that is specifically recognized by the European Court of Human Rights.. In a judgment on 14 December 2010, in a case of Madam Ternovszky v. Hungary, the European Court of Human Rights has considered that a State should provide an adequate regulatory scheme concerning the right to choose in matters of child delivery (at home or in a hospital). In the context of homebirth, regarded as a matter of personal choice of the mother, this implies that the mother is entitled to a legal and institutional environment that enables her choice.

It is our hope and our demand that the State of Hungary respects, upholds and fulfills the Human Right of choice in child delivery. The first and foremost step towards this direction is restoring justice for Dr. Agnes Geréb. Until that moment we will stand strong together with the international community of women’s human rights defenders demanding the State of Hungary to grant Presidential pardon to Dr. Agnes Geréb and to cancel all criminal procedures against her and other independent midwives in Hungary.