A heroine not a villain

Statement for Friday 10 February, 2012 – comment from Budapest

Today is Black Friday, a sad day in the history of 3 Hungarian professions: Obstetricians, Prosecutors, and Judges. For Obstetricians, because they have hounded one of their own to prison, one whose gentle birth practices were better than their own daily, dangerous interventions. And out of fear for the power and ‘gratitude money’ they receive by preventing the emergence of a real Midwifery Profession which would attend births in their place.  The many doctors who recognise the value of Agnes Gereb’s work, but refuse to stand by her, because they are afraid for their jobs, are simply cowards. They should be ashamed. This is also a black day for Prosecutors, who have fanatically persecuted an innocent woman, the best of her profession, while they  stay silent about the daily deaths and injuries which take place during birth in Hungarian hospitals.And a black day for Judges, for not having the basic common sense, the basic intelligence, to recognise from the start that the accusations against Agnes Gereb were not a matter for an ignorant court, but for a professional body of midwives. How could the so-called ‘experts’ called by the judge and the prosecultion, who have no knowledge of a midwife-attended birth, who are not even midwives themselves, judge the work of a separate profession? And how ironic, that just when the Hungarian government, at long last, has begun the process of formally recognising and regulating homebirth, the medical and legal profession gang-up to criminalise its best practitioner! But on this sad day for Hungarian justice, on this day of injustice, we have a positive message. We turn with confidence to the President of the Republic, and appeal to him, in his wisdom, to grant FULL AMNESTY to Agnes Gereb. Not just to reduce this prison sentence to a lesser punishment. But we appeal to him to throw out this case IN ITS ENTIRETY, and to allow Agnes Gereb to resume her rightful position, attending homebirths and training a new generation of midwives in gentle birth. Parallel to that, we are turning to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, to ask them to urgently review this case. We are confident that the Court will decide that Agnes has not, has never received a fair trial in Hungary. The many legal irregularities listed by Agnes Gereb’s lawyers, most recently the inexplicable refusal of this judge to consider either the new evidence we intended to present, or the views of international experts. But above all, we intend to prove to the court that this case should never have gone to court. That it should have been considered by a committee of Agnes Gereb’s own profession, the Midwifery profession, as in any other civilised country. That case may take many months, even years. But one thing is clear. Agnes Gereb is innocent. She is not a villain. She is a heroine. And we intend to prove that.

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