The 61st Session of the
Commission on Human Rights, took place in Geneva, between March
16 and 22 of April 2005. The meeting was very important as far
as sexual and reproductive rights, including HIV are concerned.
A number of resolutions which made specific reference to RSHR
were adopted. They included:
The elimination of violence against
women; The right to health; Access to medications in the context
of pandemics such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and
malaria; HIV/AIDS; The right to education; Extrajudicial,
arbitrary and summary executions.
The resolutions were
not adopted without discussion and difficulties. As far as SRHR
is concerned language used was usually disputed, and the final
resolutions were an outcome of compromise.
For example in the
resolution on HIV-AIDS sponsored by Poland, paragraph 5 proposed
by Sweden: “Urges all States to integrate of their national
strategies on HIV/AIDS interventions with sexual and
reproductive health and the promotion of reproductive rights as
well as the right to have control and decide freely and
responsibly on matters related to their sexuality, free of
coercion, discrimination and violence” was contested by Iran,
Sudan, Pakistan, China, Egypt, USA, Vatican, Costa Rica,
Guatemala, Dominican Republic and Ecuador. What is important
that the same rhetoric of "no new rights" which was used at the
Commission on the Status of Women in March was used by delegates
to justify their state's conservative positions. The United
States insisted on saying that people become infected with
HIV/AIDS as a result of infidelity by their partners, so they
are stressing the “faithfulness to one partner”.
In case of resolution
on Violence against Women the same countries were opposing
paragraph 10 (“…urges
Governments, UN bodies, programmes and specialized agencies, and
international and non-governmental organizations to effectively
promote and protect women’s and girls’ human rights, including
sexual and reproductive rights, in the context of HIV/AIDS to
lessen their vulnerability to HIV infection and to the impact of
AIDS, as described or elaborated in the Guide lines on HIV/AIDS
and Human Rights."). At the time of tabling of the
resolution 23 paragraphs were not agreed on. This is unheard of
at this stage of negotiations. It was adopted containing a new
paragraph on violence related to dress codes. No one called a
vote on the resolution as a whole so it was adopted by
Other resolution of
particular importance was on extra judicial, arbitrary and
summary executions. This is the only CHR resolution that
contains a specific reference to sexual orientation. Since above
mentioned states did not want any reference to gender identity,
there was a fight between deleting the whole list of grounds or
keeping the list with or without references to gender
Human Rights and Sexual
Orientation resolution was initiated by Brazil in 2003 was not
on the agenda this year and it is unclear even if there will be
any effort to keep this on the agenda for next year.
For the list of all resultutions and their full text go to:
Abortion continues to cause more than a quarter of all maternal
deaths in Central and Eastern Europe. Ipas and regional partners
are committed to ensuring that every woman in the region has
access to safe, woman-centered abortion and post-abortion care
services. Among the factors causing the unnecessarily low
quality of abortion care in the region are: shortages of
equipment and medication, crowded facilities, poor hygienic
conditions, lack of training, use of outdated technologies,
inadequate standards and guidelines, a lack of contraceptive
services and restrictive laws. The article “Comprehensive
Abortion Care in Central and Eastern Europe,”
recently published in
EntreNous, the European Magazine for Sexual and Reproductive
Health, summarizes the comprehensive approach
that Ipas and regional partners are taking to address this
ASTRA launch in the European Parliament.
On 26th April ASTRA has organized the
launch of the new ASTRA publication “Closing the Gap on SRHR in
the Enlarged EU. The event in the EP has been hosted by the EPWG
- European Parliament Working Group on Reproductive Health,
Development and HIV/AIDS chaired by Anne Van Lancker. Among
others the meeting was attended by MEPs, European Commission
officials (Development DG), missions' representatives, UNFPA,
OSI, and NGOs.
Kazakhstan: Illegal Abortion Concerns
Scared of shaming their families, pregnant Muslim women and
girls undergo potentially fatal illegal abortions. For Muslim
girls living in the south of Kazakhstan,
sex before marriage is strictly forbidden. In rural villages
where some families still observe the tradition of examining the
sheets after the wedding night, the pregnancy out of the wedlock
is considered a disgrace for a woman and her family. When the
rural girls move to the cities, the environment is more
permissive, but still the women and girls are too embarrassed to
find out about contraception. As a consequence many young women
end up pregnant, and try to hide it from their families. Despite
that abortion has always been legal in Kazakstan, they choose to
have illegal abortions because they want to remain anonymous.
The United Nations Population Fund has implemented a
comprehensive reproductive health strategy throughout Kazakstan.
It includes a clinic in Shymkent and any woman is eligible for a
free advice and contraception. However, specialists there say
that the facility is hardly used, particularly by the girls who
most need advice. Full text:
Source: Turkish Weekly
Lithuania: reproductive rights attacked.
Lithuanian Family Planning and Sexual Health Association has
been attacked by opposition in the 12th of April
newspaper. A one page article claimed that Open Society Fund -
Lithuania is main actor responsible for introduction of medical
abortion in Lithuania as it finances the Association. It was
mentioned, that OSF – Lithuania introduces so called “death
pills” in Lithuania and alleged that the Association breaks
Lithuanian laws spreading information about new method of
Source: Esmeralda Kuliesyte
Lithuania: “No” to abortion.
Additionally, in the middle of April parliamentarian, the leader
of Polish election action in Lithuania V.Tomasevski registered
the draft bill banning abortion in Lithuania. According to the
bill abortion would be allowed only in the case of risk for
woman’s health and fetuse’s life, and in case of pregnancy being
a consequence of crime. It is proposed for a doctor providing
illegal abortion to be punished by up to 2 years imprisonment.
Source: Rzeczpospolita Daily
ICF "International HIV/AIDS Alliance in Ukraine" has produced a
letter to new Ukrainian government addressed to Minister
Polishchuk. The letter draws attention to the problem of
HIV/AIDS and drug use in Ukraine. It expressed a concern over
the fact that a misbalance in access to treatment for active
injecting drug users in Ukraine has occurred as a result of
unavailability of substitution treatment for this category of
patients. Further it urges the minister to act quickly to
prevent further harm to Ukrainians who are dependent on opiates
and to all Ukrainian society in gneral. The letter was signed by
number of organizations including ASTRA.
Source: ICF "International HIV/AIDS Alliance in Ukraine"
Uzbekistan: Birth Control.
It has been alleged that family planning
campaign in Uzbekistan involves wide scale forced sterilization.
Institute of War and Peace Reporting stated that the evidence is
emerging that in order to ensure a smaller population
Uzbekistani authorities are abusing women's rights by conducting
hysterectomies and implanting contraceptive devices against
their will. The authorities want women to give birth to fewer
babies, less often. They argue that a reduced birth rate is for
the good of the national economy as well as the welfare of
mothers themselves. According to IWPR in Oltinkul district
16,000 young women were given IUDs last year, and another 10,000
have been ordered for 2005. Doctors in Uzbekistan have told IWPR
of a health ministry decree which requires that all women of
childbearing age be fitted with IUDs immediately after they
Source: IWPR ON-LINE:
Pressure by US.
The US government is trying to block the
World Health Organisation from endorsing two medical abortion
pills which could save the lives of some of the 68,000 women who
die from unsafe practices in developing countries every year.
The WHO wants to put the pills on its essential medicines list,
which constitutes official advice to all governments on the
basic drugs their doctors should have access to. The experts
want the abortion pills to be listed in order to reduce the
deaths and damage caused by unsafe abortions conducted in
developing counties. Every year, 18.5 million of such abortions
take place in developing countries. The risk of death from the
procedure is 100 times higher there than in countries where
mifepristone has been licensed.
Source: The Guardian
Letter to WHO.
Ipas sent a letter to WHO about inclusion
of medical abortion pills on the WHO list of essential
medicines. Persons who wrote and singed the letter wrote as
physicians, public health experts, and individuals who have
devoted their careers to women’s health, including reducing
maternal deaths and injuries caused by unsafe abortion.
Netherlands: Illegal abortions abroad.
The Dutch gynecologists association NVOG
has admitted that Dutch women sometimes go abroad (Belgium or
Great Britain) for an abortion after their 24th week of
pregnancy. This procedure is illegal in the Netherlands. They to
the above mentioned countries supposedly to get a second
opinion. Full text;
On the 14 April
2005 UN adopted a resolutions concluding the 2005 session of the
Commission on Population and Development. Two main resolutions
covered population, HIV/AIDS and poverty, as well as the
contribution of the Programme of Action of the 1994 Cairo
International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) to
the world's development goals, including those in the Millennium
Declaration. United Nations have emphasized the need to
integrate the goal of universal access to reproductive health by
2015 in strategies to attain the world's development goals. Such
access should be part of efforts to eradicate poverty, improve
maternal health, reduce infant and child deaths, promote gender
equality and combat HIV/AIDS.
Source: CHOICE, for youth and sexuality
Delay of Abortion Referendum.
In the last issue of ASTRA Bulletin we have informed you about
the referendum on abortion which was to be held in Portugal.
Unfortunately since then Portuguese President Jorge Sampaio
announced that he will delay until 2006 a national referendum on
whether to decriminalize abortion during the first 10 weeks of
pregnancy. Sampaio said that the referendum could not be held in
2005 because of constitutional restrictions about the timing of
referendum votes and elections.
REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS ON THE
European Court of Human Rights.
An abortion case is pending before the
European Court of Human Rights against Ireland. It was brought
by a woman that was pregnant with twins and one of them had a
fatal fetal impairment. Since Ireland’s abortion law is very
restrictive, only allowing abortion in cases where pregnancy
threatens the health of the pregnant woman, she could not get an
abortion in Irleland and was forced to travel to England. Now
she is claiming that the Irish abortion law in violation of the
European Convention on Human Rights, particularly because it
violates a woman’s right to privacy (Article 8) and that it
amounts to inhumane and degrading treatment (article 3). She
also made other arguments around some restrictions doctors face
in helping patients seek abortions in the UK.
More information on:
Source: Christina Zampas
Colombia: challenge to abortion law.
On Thursday, April 14th a complaint before the
Constitutional Court was filed challenging Colombian
Anti-abortion law, one of the world’s most restrictive laws.
Monica Roa of Women´s Link presented the complaint in her
capacity as a Colombian citizen. The action seeks to legalize
abortion in the most extreme cases: when the woman’s life or
health is in danger, the pregnancy is a result of rape, and/or
when the fetus has malformations incompatible with life outside
of the womb.
Source: Monika Roa
IPPF European Network will be hosting a
seminar on Europe’s Global Leadership on Sexual and Reproductive
Health and Rights (SRHR) in Luxembourg on 17 June 2005. The aim
of the one day event is to have an open discussion about the
role of the European Union in promoting sexual and reproductive
health rights in Europe and around the world. The seminar will
explore the Netherlands and Luxembourg Presidencies Achievements
in SRHR and Development; UK Presidency Priorities; the outcomes
of Beijing +10; and strategies for Europe on SRHR. More info:
LINKS AND PUBLICATIONS
This year Gender Media Caucasus
Journalists' Association has produced four issue of “CaucAsia
International Bulletin”. The bulletin covers variety of topics
addressing women in Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, Estonia,
Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan. One of
the focal points of the April edition is Beijing +10. For more
information or to subscribe to it please write to
2005 edition of Population Briefs features
an article on studies showing that Plan B emergency
contraceptive pills disrupt ovulation, preventing fertilization
and not the implantation of a fertilized egg on the uterine
wall. For more information visit:
entire May 2005 issue of Population Briefs is now
Reproductive Health Matters.In
the latest issue of “Reproductive Health Matters” there is
number of articles addressing CEE/CIS region. This includes:
“National Laws and Unsafe Abortion: The Parameters of Change”.
“A Strategic Assessment of Abortion and Contraception in
Romania”. Full text:
The website of Countdown2015
provides information on assessing the progress and mapping the
future for the key goals of the International Conference on
Population and Development (ICPD), held in Cairo in 1994. You
will also find related personal stories from all over the world
on the site.