Thursday, 12 May 2022

Women Mps Call On Public To Join Protest Rallies In Support Of Mirela Čavajda

ZAGREB, 12 May 2022 - Women MPs from Croatian leftist and liberal parties have called on the public to join protest rallies to be held in several cities across the country on Thursday evening in support of Mirela Čavajda and all women who are denied their legal right to abortion and other forms of medical care.

"It is high time we said enough is enough to the Church, to the (ruling) Croatian Democratic Union and Health Minister Vili Beroš or anyone else who has the cheek to decide on a daily basis on women's rights and the human rights of any individual to decide on their own body. Today we all have a chance to speak out for human rights and women's rights, because if we stay on the sidelines, tomorrow our daughters, granddaughters, mothers, sisters, acquaintances and girlfriends will have to justify their decisions to hypocrites and chauvinists," Mirela Ahmetović of the Social Democratic Party told a joint press conference.

This protest is the foundation for amending the law to enable women to use their own bodies as they saw fit, Ahmetović said, stressing that such an amendment was inevitable and would certainly happen. "Let's show that we are undivided on this issue," she added.

"It is important that we say enough is enough to the tyranny," Ivana Kekin of the Green-Left Bloc said and added: "All opinion polls show that 70 per cent of citizens think that women have the right to decide about their own body. We are all on the same side in this regard."

Kekin said that human, women's and reproductive rights are not respected in Croatia because of a conservative revolution that has been going on for decades. "It is no coincidence that the most conservative people are in charge of the most important health institutions which deny the right to a pregnancy termination."

Katarina Peović of the Workers' Front called for the right to abortion to be restored in the Constitution. "If the right to abortion were included in the Constitution, it would be difficult to interpret it in different ways. It is also important to admit that the Church is highly responsible for the retraditionalisation of society," she said.

"We've had enough of seeing our citizens, including women, going abroad to exercise their rights. Croatia cannot survive like that," Dalija Orešković (Centre) warned.

Protest rallies have been scheduled for 6 pm on Thursday in Zagreb, Pula, Rijeka, Sisak, Split, Šibenik, Osijek, Zadar and the southern island of Korčula to express solidarity with Mirela Čavajda, a 39-year-old who has requested a pregnancy termination because the fetus has been diagnosed with massive brain cancer six months into her pregnancy.

Čavajda recently told the media that all the hospitals in Zagreb she had contacted refused to do a termination of the pregnancy despite the fact that doctors told her that the tumour was so big the child would most likely not live long, or even if it did, it would never have a normal life.

Her lawyer, Vanja Jurić, told Hina on Thursday that the decision by a second-instance commission, which has allowed Čavajda to have her pregnancy terminated, set a precedent in Croatia because it confirmed that a pregnancy termination in such cases was legal. She said they were pleased for the sake of all women who might find themselves in a similar situation in the future.

For more, check out our politics section.

Friday, 25 June 2021

Abortion Ban in Croatia Will Not Happen, Says Sandra Benčić

June 25th, 2021 - The abortion ban in Croatia will not happen because more than 70 percent of citizens do not want it.

Jutarnji reports, commenting on the adoption of the resolution on sexual and reproductive health by Predrag Fred Matić in the European Parliament, Member of Parliament We can! Sandra Benčić said during a guest appearance on the N1 TV show Novi dan that the resolution deals with the overall reproductive and sexual rights of women, that it is an "exceptional" document and that she congratulated Matić on his "huge success".

"I believe that now, regardless of these attempts not to implement this resolution, attempts to reduce it in any way, that there will be a strong message to governments that women's reproductive and sexual rights are part of the right to health and will be respected", said Bencic for H1.

Asked what she thought about the request to discuss the resolution in the Parliament, Benčić said that she thought it was pointless.

"I can understand that someone is against abortion and that on a personal level it is considered something that should not be in the law. It’s someone’s attitude and it’s understandable. However, this resolution alone does not go beyond what our law goes beyond. Our law also says regarding the appeal of conscience that doctors have the right to appeal to conscience, but that hospitals are obliged to provide a sufficient number of doctors who do not have a conscience appeal so that it can enable abortion for those who want it" said Benčić.

"There will be no ban on abortion in Croatia for the simple reason that more than 70 percent of women and men in Croatia believe that the issue of abortion, contraception, and reproductive rights remain minimally as they are now. That is a thing that the right side of the political spectrum will not succeed in, because the citizens do not see it that way" she added.

For more news, follow TCN's dedicated page

Thursday, 24 June 2021

Matić: No One is Advocating Abortion, It is Women's Choice

ZAGREB, 24 June 2021 - Croatian MEP Predrag Matić said on Wednesday that it was a lie that his report on sexual and reproductive health, which will be put to a vote in the European Parliament on Thursday, promoted abortion.

"No one is advocating abortion, particularly not as a method of contraception," Matić said during the plenary meeting of the European Parliament.

"The number of abortions in countries where abortion is allowed is the same as in countries where it is banned. Only in these latter countries, it poses a risk to women's health as 23,000 women throughout the world die from it every year," he added.

Presenting his report, Matić said that abortion is a very difficult choice for every woman, but that in the end, every woman must have a choice.

"No one is denying doctors the right to refuse to provide a medical service for personal reasons, but at the same time the health institution must ensure a doctor who will provide the requested service," Matić said, adding that the resolution clearly says that health care falls within the competence of member states.

Matić, a member of the Croatian Social Democratic Party and the Socialists & Democrats group in the European Parliament, said he had received "angry and disgusting" criticisms and hundreds of hate emails over his report.

He said that by voting for this non-legislative resolution, men would show respect for women's rights and women would show self-respect, while all members of the European Parliament should show what kind of Europe they wanted.

Matić said that opponents of the resolution were ready to ignore the parts of it speaking of improving women's health only to focus on the issue of abortion using "an unbelievable amount of lies and manipulation."

"Tomorrow is a great day for Europe and the entire progressive world. Tomorrow we decide on positioning Europe as a community that chooses to live in the 21st  or the 17th century. Don't let history remember us as the latter ones," Matić concluded.

The report was criticized by parties on the right side of the political spectrum for referring to abortion as a human right, for treating the issue of conscientious objection as a problem, and for sidestepping the powers of EU member states.

Croatian MEP Karlo Ressler (HDZ/EPP) said that the resolution uses confusing language equating conscientious objection with denial of medical care, while his colleague Tomislav Sokol said that Matić, by advocating sexual education in school based on gender ideology, was overstepping the competencies of the EU and telling the member states what they should teach in their own curricula.

"Matić drew up the report probably under the influence of foreign lobbies that promote abortion. This stems from the fact that in the report Matić gives an arbitrary definition of sexual and reproductive health that is not based on international law," Sokol said, demanding that the disputed parts of the report should be voted on separately.

For more news about Croatia, visit our dedicated page.

Wednesday, 7 April 2021

Amnesty International: Croatia Violent Towards Migrants, But Improves in Fighting Gender-Based Violence

ZAGREB, 7 April , 2021 - Amnesty International says in its report on human rights in 2020 that Croatia continued to be violent towards illegal migrants and that access to abortion was constrained, while commending improvements regarding gender-based violence and a ruling allowing same-sex couples to foster children.

"Aid organizations documented over 15,000 cases of pushbacks and collective expulsions, frequently accompanied by violence and abuse," AI says, singling out the case of 15 migrants allegedly beaten by police while being tied to a tree.

The Croatian Interior Ministry regularly denies allegations of migrant abuse.

Gender-based violence

"In January, legal amendments harmonizing the definition of rape in criminal legislation with international standards and increasing penalties for crimes of gender-based violence entered into force," AI says, adding that "the number of reported rape cases more than doubled" as the changes "significantly expanded the scope of the offence. Proceedings continued to be lengthy, lasting between three and five years."

"Due to the reclassification of domestic violence offences, the number of criminal prosecutions for such offences rose sharply. Nevertheless, in the majority of cases, domestic violence continued to be treated as a minor offence attracting minor penalties. Police and courts remained reluctant to enforce protective measures," AI says.

Sexual and reproductive rights

"Women continued to face significant barriers in accessing sexual and reproductive health services and information," AI says.

"The widespread refusal of individual doctors and some clinics to perform abortions on grounds of conscience, as well as prohibitively high costs of services and poor regional coverage of authorized providers, presented an insurmountable obstacle to women of lower social economic status."

A new law on abortion was not adopted, AI says, although the "deadline to replace an outdated law set by the 2017 Constitutional Court ruling expired in February 2019."

Roma discrimination

"Roma continued to face discrimination in all walks of life, including education, health, housing and employment," AI says, adding that due to lack of electricity and the internet, "many Roma children were unable to access any remote learning during school closures, thereby further deepening educational gaps between Roma and non-Roma pupils."

Freedom of expression

"Journalists investigating corruption and organized crime continued to face threats and intimidation," AI says, adding that according to the Croatian Journalists’ Association, over 900 lawsuits were filed against journalists in 2020 for “violation of honour and reputation”.

For more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Monday, 1 February 2021

Sovereignists Start Gathering Signatures for Anti-Abortion Law

ZAGREB, 1 February, 2021 - The Croatian Sovereignists party started gathering signatures on Monday in order for parliament to discuss their proposal for a law on protection of life, which says that human life starts at the moment of conception. 

Under the proposal, an abortion would be possible only if pregnancy poses a threat to the pregnant woman's life. The focus would be on education, counselling and prevention.

"This is a chance for all those who call themselves Christian Democrats to prove that they are indeed prepared to protect human life from its conception," the party's leader Hrvoje Zekanović said in a statement.

"Now we will see whether they care more about values or party discipline, especially members of the (ruling) HDZ (Croatian Democratic Union) whose president is so afraid of raising this issue that he did not even honour the deadline which the Constitutional Court gave him a long time ago to change the law," Zekanović added.

The Sovereignists need at least 30 signatures for the matter to be included on parliament's agenda. They appealed to all the lawmakers who ever claimed they were pro-life to sign the petition, stressing that their proposal was based on scientific facts and Christian teaching and that it fully protected life.

The present law was adopted in 1978. The Constitutional Court ordered parliament in 2017 to pass a new law within two years, and the Sovereignists recalled that they had been waiting since March 2019 for their proposal to be put up for discussion.

Thursday, 18 June 2020

Skoro: It's Not Fair To Twist Someone's Statements And Take Them Out Of Context

ZAGREB, June 18, 2020 - Homeland Movement leader Miroslav Skoro said on Thursday it was not fair to twist his statements and take them out of context, referring to reactions to his statement that if a raped woman gets pregnant, she should agree with her family what to do.

"I know very well what I said. I'm a pro-lifer, I believe that life begins with conception and that it should be protected until natural death. It's not fair or right to twist someone's statements, take them out of context, and I don't think it's right to build an election campaign on someone's suffering," Skoro told reporters during a visit to a trade fair in Sesvete, Zagreb's eastern suburb.

He said it was quite normal for anyone, especially victims of violence, to seek advice from their family. "I didn't say that it should be a legal solution. I think that's natural, and will continue to advocate for human life to be protected from birth to natural death."

Skoro said that such accusations were laid at his door because there was nothing else he or the election candidates of the Homeland Movement could be reproached for.

Thursday, 18 June 2020

Divjak Appalled By Skoro's And Raspudic's Statements About Abortion

ZAGREB, June 18, 2020 - Science and Education Minister Blazenka Divjak said on Thursday she was appalled by the statements by Homeland Movement leader Miroslav Skoro and Bridge's election candidate Nino Raspudic about abortion.

"I am appalled by the recent discussions and statements by Mr. Skoro and Mr. Raspudic. Quite clearly, this is the sadistic humiliation of women and their rights and the unacceptable exploitation of painful personal traumas for political purposes," Divjak said in a Facebook post.

She commented on Skoro's statement made during an election debate with the secretary-general of the ruling Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ), Gordan Jandrokovic, that "if a woman becomes pregnant after being raped, she should agree with her family what to do next."

"How dare they even think that as men they can tell women how they should feel or think or whose opinion they should ask for in any situation that concerns their lives," the minister said, adding that these are not messages that should be addressed to young people in 2020.

"Croatia, as I see it, is open, sympathetic and tolerant and not one where questions are raised about whether women can make rational decisions," she wrote.