CEE Bulletin on Sexual and Reproductive Rights 

No 1 (35) 2006


table of contents:




Lithuania: Trafficking. Huge posters in 13 big cities in Lithuania warn: “It is shameful to buy a woman! It is shameful to buy a woman! Moreover, 
sooner or later everybody will find out about it!" This public campaign was launched on the 14th of November 2005, warning that paying for sexual
 favors of a prostitute is punishable by law. The campaign is implemented by Women's Issues Information Centre in cooperation with Klaipeda 
Center of Social and Psychological Help and Kaunas Caritas. It follows the amendment of the Law implemented by the Lithuanian parliament. 
In June 2005 Parliament of the Republic of Lithuanian amended the Code of Administrative Violations and, as a consequence of this amendment, 
practicing prostitution or paying for a prostitute’s services are punished by law. Lithuanian women’s NGOs support this initiative but also predict 
that it will not immediately lead to real changes because police forces are not ready to implement the law.
More information: mic@lygus.lt http://www.lygus.lt/ITC/news.php?id=773

Poland: birth allowance. Poland's parliament passed a new law guaranteeing a one-time payment of 1,000 PLN (260 EURO) to the poorest women for each child they give birth to. This is a fulfillment of the new Polish conservative government's promises to help families, and is part of its so called ‘pro-family’ approach. Supporters of the law hope that that it will also encourage more births counteracting population decline in Poland. Women’s organization as well as the large proportion of society, however, argue that the new payment will not lead to the increase of births in the country where continuous economic discrimination of women (particularly on the labour market) as well as lack of access to affordable child care is one of the reasons couples decide against having children.

More info info@astra.org.pl


Romania: abortion rate. Romania continues to have the highest rate of abortion in Europe. According to European Union statistics during her reproductive life an average Romanian woman has at least three abortions. Further, a Romanian organization offering contraceptive counseling to women argues in its annual report that the real number of terminations is greater that that stated by official statistics. Most Romanians, especially those older than 30, do not have accurate information about modern contraception despite efforts by the government and non-governmental organizations to create public awareness. The government, for more than a decade, has provided free contraceptive pills to young women and set up sex education programs. Still doctors have commented that they have seen patients who tell them they have had 20 or 30 terminations.

Full text: http://www.medicalpost.com/mpcontent/article.jsp?content=20051218_150608_552


Russia: domestic violence. According to the Russian section of Amnesty International every year 9 000 of Russian women die at the hands of their partner or relative. This figure is based partly on the research conducted by AI but also on figures of Russian authorities. Human rights activist argue that Russian authorities ignore the problem and do very little to improve the situation. In Moscow there is not one single shelter for victims of domestic violence. According to some Russian sociologist the problem can be partly explained by the social crisis which developed after the collapse of the Soviet Union. According to this theory men who feel lost in new realities take out their frustrations on their wives, partners and children. Other sociologists argue that you cannot blame everything on social consequences of the collapse of Soviet Union – women were also beaten and killed during the soviet times, but since according to state propaganda domestic violence existed only in degenerated capitalist societies, it did not officially exist in Soviet Union. As a consequence for decades domestic violence was not challenged at all. One of the main reasons of domestic violence in Russia is alcoholism, which has increased during the last 16 years. The military conflicts in which Russian participates also have a very negative impact on men from the armed forces, who become violent after they return home. Amnesty International recommends establishment of telephone help lines, establishment of shelters for women, training of Police and supporting of NGOs addressing the issue by the Russian government.

Source: Gazeta Wyborcza


Slovakia: abortion deal criticized. Slovakia has been challenged by EU legal experts over its agreement with the Vatican, which would lead to the restriction of reproductive rights of women. In 2003 Slovakia signed a draft treaty with the Roman Catholic Church, allowing doctors in catholic hospitals to refuse to carry out abortions on the basis of religious conscious objections. The doctors will also be able to say no to women requesting in vitro fertilization (IVF). The EU’s Network of Independent Experts on Fundamental Rights has produced Opinion N° 4-2005: The Right to Conscientious Objection and the Conclusion by EU Member States of Concordats with The Holy See. The document indicated Slovakia could be "violating its obligations" as an EU member.

The documents of the Network is available at: http://www.europa.eu.int/comm/justice_home/cfr_cdf/index_en.htm







Ireland: Abortion Protest. Irish youth have recently formed the Youth Group 'BODY' (Bold Open Decisive Youth). As a launch of their activities their held a protest outside the Dail (Irish Government Building). It was a visual demonstration where 17 women were placed in a cage made out of wire hangers. They were representing the 17 women that travel to the UK every day from Ireland to have an abortion. Lucky no opposition turned up on the day and all went smoothly.
More info:


Spain: abortion rate. The annual number of abortions in Spain has nearly doubled in the last decade leading to calls for improved sex education in schools. According to the Ministry of Health about 85,000 Spanish women (15% of them teenagers) terminated their pregnancies in 2004, compared with 49,000 in 1995. Some demographers argue that the rise in abortions among women between the ages of 20 and 29 - who were presumably aware of contraception - was partly due to uncertain economic conditions. Female workers hold the majority of temporary contracts, and many wait until they have a permanent work before they decide to have children. Additionally, Spain's late business hours make it hard for women to reconcile work and family. Finally, in Spain state support for families is among the lowest in the EU.

Source: Push Journal


HIV/AIDS: equality demands. The Global Network of People living with HIV/AIDS (GNP+) and the International Community of Women Living with HIV and AIDS (ICW) released their joint position paper: “Injecting Drug Users and Access to HIV Treatment”. The paper highlights inequalities in antiretroviral access for intravenous drug users around the world. It calls for UNAIDS and other global policymakers to oppose attempts to deny or limit access to harm reduction services like needle exchanges, as well as support equal access to anti-HIV drugs worldwide. Full text:



New President of IPPF Worldwide. On December 19th 2005 Jacqueline Sharpe elected president of International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF Worldwide). More info: http://www.trinidadexpress.com/index.pl/print?id=123393078






Information to the EU Network of Independent Experts on Fundamental Rights. ASTRA and the Center for Reproductive Rights submitted  additional information to the EU Network of Independent Experts on Fundamental Rights. The submitted information was forwarded in two separate letters: one dated 12th of October and another 8th December.
The letter from 12th of October provides a brief background on international human rights law and its application to sexual and reproductive health issues and some issues facing citizens in selected European Union Member States (Lithuania, Poland, and Slovakia). It urges the Network of Independent Experts to consider including sexual and reproductive health and rights issues so as to better strengthen fundamental rights within the European Union.

The letter dated 8th of December supplements the letter dated 12th of October 2005 and the oral intervention made by ASTRA and the Center at the NGO consultation meeting in Brussels on 17th October 2005. It focuses on how other international bodies, mostly United Nations Treaty Monitoring Bodies, have recognized the human rights violations connected to reproductive health issues, specifically the violations occurring in Ireland, Poland, Malta, and Slovakia. It covers four principle human rights concerns within the European Union Member States: 1) the failure to provide effective access to reproductive health services and information, particularly access to safe and legal abortion in Poland, Ireland, and Malta; 2) the failure to provide effective access to sexuality education which is not tainted by religious values, but instead provides students with accurate information to protect themselves from STIs such as HIV/AIDS and unwanted pregnancies and which also promotes gender empowerment and equality; 3) sterilization of Roma women; and 4) the discriminatory impact of sexual and reproductive rights violations. The letter requested that the Network address these issues in appropriate fora and in relevant reports on human rights.

More info: info@astra.org.pl


Review of the 2001 UNGASS on HIV/AIDS. The review of the 2001 UNGASS on HIV/AIDS will take place at the United Nations headquarters in New York from May 31 to June 2 2006. UNAIDS and other civil society are preparing for the review. The draft resolution setting out the modalities for this meeting was agreed at the final session of the General Assembly on Dec. 23 2005, but the final resolution has not been released, yet. The review will last 3 days. The first two days will be more of technical nature, and the last day will be a high level meeting. It will include an interactive civil society dialogue, roundtables, panel discussions and plenary sessions. While opportunities for civil society participation are better than in the past (2001 UNGASS and review in 2005) they are still relatively limited. ECOSOC accredited organizations must contact the NGO section of the UN Secretariat no later than March 30 to indicate their interest in participating (desangosection@un.org). Those without ECOSOC accreditation must apply to UNAIDS by February 3 to participate.

For the purpose of coordinating civil society participation towards the review a steering committee has been working for the past six months. If you would like more information please contact: Zonible Woods zonnyw@yahoo.co.uk  

To access the full version of The Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS http://www.unaids.org/en/events/un+special+session+on+hiv_aids/declaration+of+commitment+on+hiv_aids.asp

Women and religion in Europe. The council of Europe produced a document “Women and Religion in Europe”. According to it religion continues to play an important role in the lives of many European women. In fact, most women are affected in one way or another by the attitude of different faiths towards them regardless if they themselves are believers or not. The document also states that all women living in Council of Europe member states have a right to equality and dignity in all areas of life, and that freedom of religion must not be accepted as a pretext for justifying violations of women’s rights. Further it is the duty of the member states of the Council of Europe to protect women against violations of their rights in the name of religion and to promote and fully implement gender equality. States must not accept any religious or cultural relativism of women’s human rights. The document recommends that Parliamentary Assembly should call on the member states of the Council of Europe to take the necessary steps to fully protect all women living in their country against violations of their rights based on or attributed to religion and to take a stand against violations of women’s human rights justified by religious or cultural relativism everywhere. The document covers specifically the issues of impact of religion on attitudes towards contraception, abortion and divorce. It also refers to main religions present in the member states including the Roman Catholic Church, Protestant Churches, Orthodox Churches, Islam and Judaism.

Full text of the document: http://assembly.coe.int/Documents/WorkingDocs/doc05/EDOC10670.htm







International Seminar. International Seminar on “Ethical Issues in Reproductive Health” will be organized by the IUSSP Committee on Reproductive Health and the Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute (NIDI). Netherlands, August-September 2006. Deadline for submission of abstracts: 31 January 2006. The organizers will cover accommodation expenses at the meeting location for all participants, but funding for travel is limited. Applicants are encouraged to seek their own travel funding, but if they require travel assistance, they should indicate that need by ticking the appropriate box on the on-line submission form when submitting paper or abstract. A full announcement and description of this seminar is available at http://www.iussp.org/Activities/scc-rep/rep-call06.php; http://www.iussp.org/Activities/scc-rep/rep-call06.php






AIDS map. "New at aidsmap.com" is edited by Keith Alcorn and produced by NAM, which provides information on HIV and AIDS to people around the world. Visit the website at http://www.aidsmap.com/






PIN for Health Newsletter by Open Society Institute. The Newsletter includes following sections: important dates, upcoming events, funding, announcements and highlights. It also presents organisations. Each issue also focuses on one specific topic.

All published issues are available at www.pinforhealth.hr


Report: Sex Work, HIV/AIDS and Human Rights. Central and Eastern European Harm Reduction Network has produced a report “Sex Work, HIV/AIDS and Human Rights in Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia”. According to the report many Eastern Europe and Central Asian countries' efforts to curb commercial sex work have been "ineffective" and often are "counterproductive" to efforts to fight HIV/AIDS. CEEHRN based the report on a survey of organizations addressing the needs of sex workers in 27 countries in the regions and found that many sex workers face oppressive government policies, poverty, discrimination and health risks such as drug use. The report shows that sex work, drug use, and HIV are inextricably linked in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, a region experiencing one of the fastest-growing HIV epidemics in the world. Comprehensive action and greater commitment is critical to prevent the spread of HIV among sex workers and into the general population, said Raminta Stuikyte, co-author of the report and director of CEEHRNThe report also found that 14 of the countries surveyed have laws making commercial sex work a minor offense or crime, which CEEHRN says stigmatizes sex workers and creates hurdles for them to access health and social care. Experts involved in the production of the report say that the rates of HIV will rise if policies protecting sex workers are not created. The report recommends that sex workers become involved in HIV/AIDS and human rights programs in Central Asia and Eastern Europe, and that governments and organizations implement voluntary and confidential HIV testing.

Link to the report: http://www.ceehrn.org/index.php?ItemId=15504



A: The Abortion Magazine. Jarrell, Marty, editor-in-chief. November 2005. (English) The inaugural issue of Ipas’s biannual magazine deals with the sexual and reproductive-health needs of adolescents. It includes interviews with Mexican and Nigerian advocates; a story on the impact of abstinence-only sexual education in U.S. schools; and an article on why girls choose unsafe abortion. Available online.



Danger ahead: How restricting teens’ access to safe abortion threatens their lives and health.Packer, Sarah. November 2005. (English) As state governments and the U.S. Supreme Court adopt or consider measures restricting adolescents’ access to abortion, this briefing details how limiting reproductive-health services and information endangers teens, a group already at high risk for unintended pregnancies and complications from unsafe abortions. Available online.



Danger ahead factsheet. This document summarizes research about adolescents’ vulnerability to pregnancy, the health consequences specific to early pregnancy, and the legal obstacles teens may face when seeking safe abortion services. Available online.