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Women’s conference “Empowering Women” 15/16 November 2003 held in London.

 

Dear Readers,

You can find here the contribution of the delegate to the Conference for Prometheus Society of Slovakia,  Ms.Viera Faragulová:

Women rights in clerical Slovakia.

 Strengthening of citizen’s human rights is under way in the unified Europe. Vatican tries to thwart such advance using all possible means and at the same time it wants to rebuild at least partially its former might and unchallenged rights to interfere in state policy of EU member states.

Slovakia became after 1989 a pawn on this chessboard and turned to be actually the extended hand of Vatican. Slovakia is namely to play the role of a fifth column in EU after its definite joining the EU. The former prime minister of Slovakia Mr. V. Mečiar  at the occasion of his visit to Vatican proclaimed: "Slovakia could become a model of church State relation with a special respect for Christian values". The pope responded with a great pleasure telling: "This could change the future of the whole humankind" Since then this mute conspiracy of Vatican and Slovakia against democratic pluralist open society in the future Europe continues.

Progress towards democracy after November 1989?

Immediately after the November 1989 overturn in the former Czechoslovakia and later in Slovakia basic constitutional laws and other legislative measures were passed. It should have secured transforming the political regime in a democratic civil society These rights apply equally to nondenominational subjects as to all the others, equally to women rights as to all others.

The State authorities gradually have sanctioned in their policy the dominance of Catholicism. It became actually the state ideology, supported financially, institutionally and with propaganda. It was in contrast with one of the basic requirement of the November “velvet revolution” to build a civil society with separation of state and church.

According to the investigation done by the Sociologic Institute of Slovak Academy of Science in 1998 as many as 16 % of citizens were steadfast atheists, 19,3 % were indifferent in questions of religion. The proportion of these in the total population was thus 35,3 %

Despite the great part of nondenominational population, Slovak authorities have ignored completely their existence. They denied them any legal acknowledgment accompanied with financial subsidies for developing their specific spiritual needs.

On the other hand after 1989all churches and civil associations working in the field of religious propaganda are generously subsidised from taxes of all taxpayers, including taxes collected from nondenominational citizens.

 The continuous animosity of Catholic Church against women is necessarily linked with this transformation of Slovakia in a “taliban-like “ fundamentalist Catholic state. Some leading fanatic politicians openly declare the determination to fight European  “leftist liberalism” The interior minister V. Palko claimed on April 29, 2003 at the republican congress of the Christian democratic Party: “In the western civilisation a cultural war is under way, at which the leftist liberals want to wipe out the Christian civilisation. They want to enforce to us a perverse view on the pillars of society, which are the family and the marriage. They doubt about right for preserving human life at its beginning equally as at its end. They distort the history”

Such a rude attack against the European civilisation can originate only from a person to whom no other rule except the medieval Christian dogma is valid

The same minister Vladimír Palko attacked the European parliament in his article published in the periodical Domino Forum No 19/2002. He has strongly denounced the European Parliament because it passed  the resolution No< A5-0365/2001 against FUNDAMENTALISM.  His revulsion was focussed especially on the parliament’s acknowledging the reproductive rights of women to choose freely the timing and numbers of their children. In addition he attacked above all the passages in which the European parliament proclaimed that according to point 2.9.the parliament  calls for the application of human rights, which cannot be restricted or cancelled under the pretext of religious interpretations, cultural traditions or incompatible legislation, and for a ban within the European Union on the application of rules or traditions which are opposed to or are incompatible with human rights.

Such rules have been quite unacceptable for the purportedly devout Catholic Slovakia as declared by Vladimír Palko.

A dangerous raw between governmental coalition partners arose when the parliament rejected the abortion law proposed by Christian democrats and instead of it passed the other , more liberal law proposed by Alliance of the New Citizens (ANO) and its chairman P. Rusko.

The Christian democratic party appealed immediately to the Constitutional court, The Church started to intimidate the president of the republic and parliamentarians by menacing them with EXCOMMUNICATION.

The chairman of the Bishops Conference Bishop František Tondra, proclaimed that passing of that amendment has been a treachery committed on the ELECTORATE ( comment: which electorate ? those 7 % who want to DICTATE along with the Bishops Conference the WHOLE NATION?) He continues to affirm: “In my opinion they HAVE BEEN EXCOMMUNICATED”, but this excommunication can be reversed by PENITENCE  ( See: Pravda July 5, 2003)

It is one of the proves that the Catholic church aspires after the unchallenged right to dictate the parliamentarians in Slovakia, which is one of signs of every fundamentalist religious regime. The president Rudolf Schuster himself was to that extent intimidated that he finally did not sign the new law ( despite his alleged consent with its content ! )

 The revenge to the chairman Rusko did not wait long: It started when the New Citizens' Alliance (ANO) head Pavol Rusko found out, that his telephone was bugged, and demanded the interior minister V. Palko to investigate into the affaire. As expected the investigation brought NO RESULT, the culprit remained unknown. (Remember the Watergate affair in USA, when THE PRESIDENT had to step down- in Slovakia such things cannot happen)
 Shortly thereafter against New Citizens' Alliance (ANO) head Pavol Rusko a motion was submitted requesting parliament to lift the ANO leader's immunity from prosecution -for some vaguely formulated criminal activities. (It reminds the deep Stalinist era, when police indicted innocent people by invented accusations, PROOVED their guiltiness, and they were finally sentenced) RUSKO DENIED ALL THE ALLEGATIONS, CALLING THEM "COLOSSAL LIES".
But the aim was fulfilled: he was indicted as a potential CRIMINAL and now the Christian democrats can BLACKMAIL him. The attorney general didn’t find reason for indictment against Rusko after studying the materials prepared by the interior ministry investigators.
Therefore it is more probable that initiating legal prosecution against Rusko was a pretext and revenge for his support of the abortion law NOT COMPLYING with Christian dogma.

 The described episodes are no more just an example of the hostile policy of the current Slovak political spectrum against the fundamental rights of women.

Many other aspects remain unnoticed - such as the demands to deprive women of their equal status in the society by claiming that the duty of each woman is just to maintain the household  for the family. Of course these tendencies have many other facet like women having opportunities to gain important jobs much harder than men, and finally also impact on the levels of their salary.

 According to the last investigation done by the statistical bureau in this year, in 1996 women’s salary reached 74,9% of men’s salary, in 2001 it reached 74,1% and in 2002 it reached 71,7% only. It means, that women’s situation is going to be not better, but worse. In year 2002 the difference between women’s and men’s salary in bank business was 12,500.- Sk, in communication professions the difference made 7,300.- Sk and in retail business it was 4,400.-Sk.

In politics it isn’t better. Participating in the legislative and executive branch of the state is one of the most important parts of citizenship. Compared to other European countries, women in Slovakia were granted the right to vote relatively early, immediately after the formation of the Czechoslovak Republic in October 1918. Despite this the right of women to be elected and participate in government policy is still not satisfactorily secured or implemented.

Before 1989 there were quota requiring a 30% proportion of women on election candidates lists.  Due to this measure, there were in parliament more than 20% women. After 1990 there were in parliament 12% women. In year 2002 after the elections increased the women’s representation in the parliament to 19.3%.

Participation in the executive branch decreased after the 2002 parliamentary elections. The new cabinet doesn’t have a single female minister. By comparison, in most EU member states the ratio of women in the cabinet exceed one third, and in many it is approaching parity.

These facts demonstrate a significant disproportion in the participation of women and men in the legislative and executive branches. This gender gap was not eliminated even after the 2002 parliamentary elections, despite pressure from non-governmental organizations and the intense public debate on equal opportunities in politics. The situation is the same or even worse at the regional level of the state administration and in regional and municipality administration.

All that proves that Christianity instilled in practical policy is an utmost danger for fundamental women human rights. Slovakia is just one of many examples.

The European NGO-s which want to implement a real democracy should therefore unite and categorically oppose all similar unsound political efforts. It applies much more to the candidate states aspiring for accession to EU. These states should bring in line their legislature and state policy with general rules safeguarding equal rights to all citizens, regardless of their gender, life stance, or any other distinguishing characteristics, before they are admitted in the EU. All that cannot be achieved from within the fundamentalist states, because they refuse to cope with such problems. A resolute international pressure must be extended to this end Stop discrimination!

 Viera FARAGULOVÁ

Prometheus Society of Slovakia

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