Activists Take Legal Action After Romani Woman Gives Birth on Pavement Outside Hospital in Romania

The European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC) and the Romani Lawyers Association ROMAJUST have taken legal action against a Romanian hospital    on behalf of a 24-year-old Romani woman who gave birth outside on the pavement after being refused medical care.


The organisations have filed a criminal complaint against the manager of the Urziceni hospital as well as the emergency unit personnel. Additionally, a petition alleging multiple discrimination has also been submitted to the National Council for Combating Discrimination (NCCD). The woman, who is deaf and from a Romani community, was denied due to the hospital lacking a gynaecology ward. The criminal complaint was filed on the 8th of August 2023 and the petition to NCCD on the 10th of August 2023.

“Discrimination, neglect, abusive and inhumane treatment. We have zero tolerance for such behaviour; therefore, we are taking all legal procedures so that the guilty pay for the consequences” said Eugen Ghita, the President of ROMAJUST.

“Trust and safety are something you should absolutely expect in a medical setting. But unfortunately, abuse of Romani women by medical staff is not uncommon in Romania or elsewhere in Europe” said the ERRC’s President, Đorđe Jovanović. “Thankfully this woman suffered no complications as a result of the neglect and intersectional form of discrimination she faced. Others  have not been so lucky and even died while awaiting urgent medical treatment. This case must be brought, not only for this woman but in the interest of public safety, to ensure that Roma are not mistreated as second-class citizens when it comes to health.” 

The Romani woman is from Barbulești, a community where according to the last census almost 80% of the population were Roma.  According to the hospital, when the Romani woman arrived at the hospital the manager called an ambulance to take her 60 kilometres away to Slobozia. The reasoning the manager gave to local news was: “we don’t have a gynaecology ward.” Referring to the lack of specialized doctors, the emergency unit staff were contacted to send an ambulance. However, the patient was not consulted, supervised, or escorted to the ambulance car. Instead, she was told to wait for the ambulance outside the hospital. The woman was not sufficiently cared for by medical staff and was left waiting outside a hospital, where she eventually gave birth on the pavement, sparking local outrage and demands for action.

This incident has been deemed ”unacceptable” by the Romanian Ministry of Health, who has demanded the dismissal or resignation of the   hospital manager. An investigation has been launched to sanction possible incidents of discrimination under the law so that all citizens, regardless of their ethnicity, have equal access to public services and facilities. The incident has prompted calls for better healthcare access, personnel, and facilities for marginalised communities in Romania. 

This press release is also available in Romanian.

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