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Last Updated: Thursday, 14 December 2006, 11:27 GMT
Ceausescu's children
A young woman looks up from a hole leading to underground steam heaters where she and other teenagers and children are temporarily living
Crossing Continents was broadcast on Thursday, 21 December 2006, at 1102 GMT
On BBC Radio 4 and Online

Forty years ago Romania's former dictator, Nicolae Ceausescu, introduced a "forced breeding" policy - compared by some to the Nazi's eugenics programme - to create a new generation of true socialists.

Women were forbidden from having abortions or using contraception. They were given gynaecological check-ups at the workplace.

The children born then and thereafter were known as Decreteii - The children of the decree.

Many of them were unwanted or born severely disabled as a result of the mothers' failed attempts to induce abortion.

The legacy of this decree continues to traumatise Romania today: a whole generation of young people with disabilities, HIV/AIDs or Hepatitis B; a generation coping with the pain that they were abandoned and institutionalized.

And a country that continues to abandon children and to stigmatize "difference" and disability.

On the eve of its membership of the EU, Rosie Goldsmith investigated the impact Ceausescu's cruel social experiment has had on modern-day Romania.

Crossing Continents was broadcast on Thursday, 21 December 2006.

Presenter: Rosie Goldsmith
Producer: Anca Toader
Editor: Sue Ellis

Crossing Continents


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Country profile: Romania
26 Sep 06 |  Country profiles

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