CEE Bulletin on Sexual and Reproductive Rights 

No 4 (38) 2006


table of contents:





The UN Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS, adopted in 2001, set the goals aimed at stopping the spread of HIV infections and AIDS. Although some progress has been made to improve access to treatment for people living with HIV/AIDS, the number of infections continue to rise. The data in CEE/CIS region point to the increase of risky behaviors such as unprotected sex and injecting drug use, especially among young people. In Russia over 80 per cent of people suffering of HIV infection are under 30. This is one of the highest rates of HIV-plus people under 30 in the world. As in many parts of the world also in Central and Eastern Europe rates of HIV infections among women are increasing than among men. This shows that empowering women and girls to protect themselves effectively against HIV infection should be among main goals of the global response to the pandemic. It is also crucial that sexual and reproductive right are included in HIV/AIDS policies and programs as stated in the statement With Women Worldwide – A Compact to End HIV/AIDS endorsed by a number of NGOs.

The new document adopted in March by the Commission on the Status of Women the "Resolution on Women, the Girl Child and HIV/AIDS" may help to advocate for stronger commitments to addressing  women's and girls needs during the 2006 Comprehensive Review and UN High-Level Meeting, which will take place on 31 May-2 June in New York. The Resolution also emphasizes the need to strengthen the coordination and linkages between HIV/AIDS and reproductive health policies.







Hungary: Birth control subsidies. Hungary, which has one of the highest abortion rates in the EU, is considering subsidizing contraceptive pills. The initiative aims at helping women to avoid unwanted pregnancies, but it may also help the Hungarian health insurance system to reduce its expenses by cutting down spending on abortions. In 2004 the amount spent by the national health insurance fund to terminate pregnancies was higher than the cost of the year's supply of oral contraceptives for all patients and reached 1,4 billion forints (almost $7 million). In 2004 there were 55 abortions for every 100 live births in Hungary. According to WHO data the number is 28% higher than the enlarged EU average.


Poland: trafficking in women. According to Polish office of La Strada Foundation against Trafficking in Women up to 10,000 Polish women every year fall victim of human traffickers and are being forced to prostitution in richer states of the EU. The problem has expanded after EU enlargement in 2004 as traveling became easier and access to legal jobs has not improved. Poland is also the country of destination and of transit for victims of trafficking coming from former Soviet republics. La Strada is supporting the EU Parliament prevention and awareness campaign which was launched on International Women's Day.

Agence France Press


Religious classes in school curriculum. The Polish government pledged to fulfill the requests of the Polish episcopate concerning religious classes at school. Firstly, the catechism classes are to be included into the list of school subjects with secondary school final examination status. Secondly, students who chose not to attend religion lessons will be obliged to subscribe to ethics classes. The problem is that most schools do not provide them. This in practice may lead to making students attend the lessons of catholic catechism against their will.  


Romania: Regional consultation on scaling up HIV in South Eastern Europe. One of the seven regional consultations held globally 'Scaling up HIV prevention, treatment, care and support programmes to slow the spread of HIV in South Eastern Europe' took place on 8-9 March in Bucharest. The meeting, hosted by the Romanian Government and  facilitated by UNAIDS, focused on common obstacles that countries in South Eastern Europe face in scaling up comprehensive AIDS services. Over the last 15 years more than 30,000 cases of HIV have been diagnosed in South Eastern Europe. More information at:



Russia: abortion numbers decrease. The number of abortions in Russia dropped to 45 from 114 per 1000 women of reproductive age in 1991. There are 122 abortions for every 100 births compared to 200 in 1991. The decrease was caused by easier access to modern contraceptives and to family planning centers mostly supported by foreign NGOs. The number of family planning centers has tripled since 1991. Although the increased use of contraceptives is a success, there is still a lot to do in order to dispel prejudice against oral contraception. This has remained common among older women since 1980s when contraceptives were believed to be ineffective and harmful. Older women often use abortion as a well known family planning method practiced by their mothers and older sisters.    
Gazeta Wyborcza


1,4 million of people HIV positive. According to UNAIDS representative in Russia more than 80% of HIV-positive people in Russia are under the age of 30. In North America and Western Europe this age group constitutes 30% suffering from the infection. During the press conference held in March the UN officials also pointed to increasing number of HIV-positive women as another major issue of concern. According to UNAIDS representatives there are 1,4 million HIV-positive patients in Russia, which is around 1% of the whole population. The official statistics say that the number is slightly over 340,000.
RIA Novosti


The regional consultation on scaling up towards universal access in the countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States took place in Moscow on 1-2 March.  The meeting brought together government representatives from throughout the region, leaders from civil society as well as people living with HIV/AIDS and members of the Global Steering Committee. Last year in Eastern Europe and Central Asia more than 270,000 people were newly infected with HIV and 1,6 million people were living with  the virus by the end of the year.

More information about the regional consultation and its outcome are available at: http://data.unaids.org/pub/Periodical/2006/20060306_TUA_bulletin_9.pdf








European Court of Human Rights: the right to use the frozen embryos. The European Court of Human Rights ruled that a British woman does not have the right to use frozen embryos for in vitro fertilization without the agreement of a man who contributed to creating them with his genetic material. Hence the European Court upheld the decision of British High Court. The case was brought by Natallie Evans, a women who, after becoming infertile as a result of cancer treatment, wanted to use the embryos created before the illness but could not do it because her former partner withdrew the consent. The women argued that if she had become pregnant naturally her partner would not have the right to decide whether she could use the embryos or not. The Court expressed its sympathy for Evans who without the right to use the embryos will not be able to have children. The Court added however that the applicant's right to family can not supersede her former fiancé's withdrawal of consent. Since Evans said she planned to appeal the case to the Grand Jury of the European Court, the Court asked the British government to ensure that the embryos are preserved until Evans' appeals are exhausted.
Kaiser Daily


Germany: demographic concern. Germany's birth rate reached the lowest level since 1945. In 2004 there were 8.5 live births per 1.000 people. In 2005 the declining trend continued and 4,2% less babies were born than in 2004. The highest birth rate was in 1964 with a total number of 1.357 million births in East and West Germany. According to the Federal Statistic Office in the worst case scenario the population, which will start to decrease in the coming decade despite of continued immigration, would drop from 82 million to 67 million by 2050. The middle range scenario estimates that by the 2050 the number of people will be the same as in 1963 - 75 million.

PUSH, 15.03


Great Britain: Research on contraceptive pill reducing risk of breast cancer. A contraceptive pill that may reduce the risk of breast cancer, heart disease, eliminate periods and end some other painful gynecological conditions could be available within the next 5-10 years. The pill is being tested at the University of Edinburgh. In contrary to existing oral contraception the new pill contains neither estrogen nor progesterone but new compounds called Progesterone Receptor Modulators (PRMs). Since the new contraceptive does not contain hormones it is being believed that the risk of breast cancer and heart problems will  be reduced.
The Independent, on-line edition


Norway: the support for international safe abortion fund. Norway's government declared to support a global safe abortion fund established by International Planned Parenthood Federation with a donation of at least 10 million kroner a year (USD 1,5million, euro 1,25million). The Minister of International Development said that Norway opposes the US administration policy of withholding donations for foreign groups and organizations that promote safe abortion. He added that Norway's government is determined to secure women's reproductive rights and support decriminalization of abortion worldwide. By pledging the donations Norway joined Great Britain which had also declared to support IPPF fund with 3 million pounds (USD 5,2 million, euro 4,4, million).



Mexico: legal settlement to a woman denied legal abortion. In March the Mexican government agreed to a landmark settlement in the case of Paulina Ramirez who was raped in 1999 at the age of 13 and then forced to carry her pregnancy to term although she had the right to legal abortion. In 2002 the Center for Reproductive Rights and two Mexican human rights groups filed a petition to Inter-American Commission in Human Rights whose authority is recognized by Mexico. According to the settlement the victim is to be paid USD 40,000 in legal, medical fees and reparations. She will also receive a government stipend for her son’s education. In agreement the Mexican government recognized that state officials violated the national law by infringing Paulina’s rights. The state also agreed to issue a decree regulating guidelines for access to abortion for rape victims.


Ireland: Union of Students in Ireland for greater access to abortion services. At its annual congress The Union of Students in Ireland (USI) voted in favor of the USI to lobby the government and other relevant bodies for greater access to abortion services. The USI wants to lobby also the political parties so that abortion becomes one of main issues at next election. Each year over 6,000 Irish women go to UK to terminate the pregnancy.
Irish Times, PUSH


UN Commission on the Status of Women: Resolution on Women, the girl child and HIV/AIDS. UN Commission on the Status of Women adopted during its 50th session an important resolution on women, the girl child and HIV/AIDS. The resolution calls upon the governments, UN institutions, international donor community and other stakeholders to integrate gender perspective in the development of HIV/AIDS programmes and policies as well as in all international assistance and cooperation. It also emphasizes the need to strengthen the coordination and linkages between HIV/AIDS and reproductive health policies. It urges the governments to: achieve universal access to reproductive health by 2015; create enabling environment for empowerment of women and promote their rights so they can protect themselves from HIV infection; integrate HIV/AIDS prevention into all health services, including R&SH; ensure accessible and available procurement of male and female condoms; ensure access to information and education, including sexual education, to give young women and men life skills required to reduce their vulnerability to HIV and other reproductive health problems. The resolution can be used during the 2006 HIV/AIDS UNGASS review and high level meeting to advocates for a stronger commitment to addressing women's and girls needs in the outcome document.

The revised draft resolution is available at: http://daccessdds.un.org/doc/UNDOC/LTD/N06/266/43/PDF/N0626643.pdf?OpenElement


WHO: New report on HIV/AIDS. According to the new WHO report published on March 28th "Progress on global access to HIV antiretroviral therapy", the number of people on HIV antiretroviral treatment in low and middle-income countries more than tripled during two years reaching 1,3 million in December 2005 as a result of the joint WHO and UNAIDS program "3 by 5". This, however, was less  than initially hoped since the project objective was to provide treatment to 3 million people living with HIV/AIDS in these countries. Globally, 18 developing countries met the "3 to 5" target of providing treatment to half of those in need. Overall, only one in every five people in low and medium income countries have access to HIV antiretroviral treatment.


EU Parliament: Resolution preventing forced prostitution during world sport events. The EU Parliament adopted the Resolution on forced prostitution in the framework of sport world events. The resolution does not include the controversial provisions concerning the reintroduction of visa requirements for non-EU citizens traveling to Germany for the summer's football world cup. It calls for Germany and other Member States to set up a multilingual telephone and visible communication campaign designed to provide counseling, housing and legal aid to women and other victims forced  into prostitution and to inform other victims who find themselves isolated in the country of transit or destination. The resolution calls on sport associations at all levels as well as sportsmen and women themselves to support the "Red-card campaign" and condemn trafficking in human beings and forced prostitution. It also calls on European Commission and Member States to launch a campaign targeting potential victims and urges Member States to ratify the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings.






The information piece on the new roadmap on gender equality published in last issue of ASTRA Bulletin (No 38) incorrectly stated that the document does address the issues regarding reproductive and sexual health and rights. 'Roadmap for equality between men and women 2006-10' does not address these issues. We regret the error.

Gender Equality Roadmap is available at: http://europa.eu.int/comm/employment_social/emplweb/news/news_en.cfm?id=136 







Symposium "Reproductive Health and Rights - Abortion, Contraception and Society". The international symposium organized jointly by the Swedish Society of Medicine and the Swedish Society of Obstetrics and Gynecology is being held on 6-7 April 2006. More information at: http://www2.svls.se/berzelius/6120.cs


Call for signatures. The declaration adopted during the hearing on Reproductive Health and Sexual Education organised by the European United Left/Nordic Green Left group in the European Parliament on International Women's Day, calls for greater respect for sexual and reproductive rights as well as comprehensive sexual education, easy access to information, guidance and family planning, safe abortion and the abolition of restrictive clauses on reproductive rights in the legislations of all EU member states. The organizers of the hearing ask for support and signing of the declaration which is available in 21 languages at: http://www.guengl.org/showPage.jsp?ID=2369&ISSUE=1


Call for action. The two-day conference 'What about sex?', organized by Youth Incentives and World Population Foundation in Utrecht, Netherlands, on 6-7 March 2006. During the conference 225 participants from 31  countries from 5 continents demonstrated that, regardless of their own cultural, social and religious backgrounds, it can be easy – and even fun – to talk about sexuality.  The participants concluded that talking about sexuality empowers people to make responsible choices, stimulates debate, guarantees a learning experience and creates space to enjoy sexuality. In the Call for Action one will find the definitions, the empowering effect of discussing sexuality, the challenges and the recommendations as formulated by the participants. The Call for Action is available at:


World Population Foundation website: http://www.wpf.org/home_gb


Vladimir Spidla’s response to ASTRA letter. At the beginning of February ASTRA issued a statement to the European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities in which it expressed appreciation for his initiative of launching the Roadmap for equality between women and men. ASTRA expressed hope that the Roadmap would address sexual and reproductive health and rights issues as key for achieving gender equality. In response to ASTRA letter Vladimir Spidla stressed that gender equality roadmap reaffirms the Commission’s commitments to the principles of the Beijing Platform for Action an other internationally recognized principles, in particular the Cairo Program of Action and Millennium Development Goals. However, SRHR are not addressed in the Roadmap explicitly.
Full text of Commissioner’s letter available at: http://www.astra.org.pl/spidla.pdf
ASTRA’s letter is available at: http://www.astra.org.pl/articles.php?id=114 







2006 Comprehensive Review and High-Level meeting on HIV/AIDS. The Review and the Meeting will take place on 31 May - 2 June in New York. According to General Assembly resolution passed on March 27th approximately 800 NGOs that do not have consultative status with ECOSOC were invited to participate. The President of GA will be advised on preparations for the UNGASS by Civil Society Task Force which includes representatives of: people living with HIV/AIDS,  Coalition for Civil Society Participation in the HIV/AIDS UNGASS, labor sector, private sector, Women's organizations, Youth organizations, Faith-based organizations and NGO delegates from UNAIDS Programme Coordinating Board as well as NGO members of the UNAIDS Universal Access Global Steering Committee.

Conference on “Gender, Child Survival and HIV/AIDS: From Evidence to Policy”. The  conference will take place on 7-9 May, 2006 at York University, Toronto, Canada. It aims to bring together individuals and groups with different perspectives on gender and HIV/AIDS in a safe environment where divergent views are respected. The conference is addressed to researchers, academics and activists working on gender and women’s health HIV support groups, service providers and researchers, breastfeeding researchers/scientists and activists, women and mothers living with HIV/AIDS, health professionals and health service providers, policy makers, students. The deadline for late registration is April 15. More information at: http://www.waba.org.my/hiv/conference2006.htm








Right To Decide, a web initiative on reproductive and sexual rights and health, provides an open forum for the permanent exchange of best practices, views and news for anyone who is interested: http://www.righttodecide.org/ 


International Consortium for Medical Abortion (ICMA) - the renovated website is already available. It has a series of new sections and the Part 1 of the Informational Package dedicated to women in English which will be translated soon in other languages: http://www.medicalabortionconsortium.org  


Central European and Eurasian Law Initiative (CEELI), a public service project of the American Bar Association, developed the CEDAW Assessment Tool as a resource to measure the status of women through the lens of the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women: http://www.abanet.org/ceeli/publications/cedaw/home.html
The newest CELLI report on Russia is available at:








Progress on global access to HIV antiretroviral therapy. A report on "3 by 5" and beyond. WHO, March 2006. The new report by WHO and USAID charts the final progress of "3 to 5" strategy to expand access to HIV antiretroviral treatment  and analysis lessons learned as a foundation for global efforts to provide universal access to HIV treatment by 2010. The report is available at: 



Honor related violence. Prevention of violence against women and girls in patriarchal families. Kvinnoforum/Foundation of Women's Forum , Stockholm 2005. The training manual for actors working against honor related violence available at:





Right to Decide Newsletter is available at: http://www.righttodecide.org//newsletter/newsletter.html


Update - 2006 HIV/AIDS UNGASS Review, No. 2 - The e-Bulletin produced by Family Care International and International Health Coalition shares information about important events and initiatives related to HIV/AIDS in 2006 and identifies key opportunities for advocacy. The bulletin is available at: http://www.astra.org.pl/hiv_bulletin.pdf










Compiled by: Aleksandra Solik



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ASTRA members:ASTRA coordination and secretariat: Federation for Women and Family Planning, Warsaw/Poland, http://www.astra.org.pl; Family Planning Association of Albania, Tirana/Albania, afpa@albaniaonline.net; Women's Rights Center of Armenia, Yerevan/Armenia, wrcarm@arminco.com; Women's Independent Democratic Movement of Belarus, Minks/ Belarus, http://www.cacedu.unibel.by/widm; Bulgarian Gender Research Foundation, Sofia/Bulgaria; B.a.b.e (Be Active, Be Emancipated), Zagreb/Croatia, http://www.babe.hr; CESI - Centre for Education and Counselling of Women, Zagreb/Croatia, http://www.zamir.net/~cesi; Family Planning and Sexual Health Association of Lithuania, Vilnius/Lithuania, lithfpa@takas.lt; Latvia's Association for Family Planning And Sexual Health, Riga/Latvia, http://www.papardeszieds.lv; Eastern European Institute for Reproductive Health, Targu Mures/Romania, icozos@eeirh.org, AnA: Romanian Society for Feminist Analysis, Bucharest/Romania, http://www.anasaf.ro/; Institute of State and Law, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow/Russia, olga@khazova.msk.ru; Novogorod Gender Center, Novgorod/Russia, kevi@adm.nov.ru; NGO "Women Health and Family Planning", Kiev/Ukraine,http://www.whfp.kiev.ua; Habeas Corpus Working Group/Hungary, http://www.habeascorpus.hu; IPAS, Chapel Hill/USA, http://www.ipas.org; NGO Pro Choice Bratislava, Bratislava/Slovakia, http://www.prochoice.sk; Center for Reproductive Rights, New York/USA, http://www.reproductiverights.org, International Centre for Reproductive Health,Ghent/Belgium, http://www.icrh.org, Bulgarian Family Planning and Sexual Health Association, Sofia/Bulgaria http://www.bfpa-bg.org, Women's Center,Tbilisi/Georgia, http://www.womancenter.org.ge , Gender Education, Research and Technologies, Sofia/Bulgaria marinova@mbox.cit.bg, Reproductive Health Training Center, Chisinau/Moldova, www.medicalabortionconsortium.org; Women's Room - Women's Center for Sexuality and the Prevention, Research and Combating of Sexual Violence, Zagreb/Croatia, zenska.soba@zamir.net, ANO "Women's Health"/Russia; Charitable SALUS Foundation/Ukraine, www.salus.org.ua

Editorial Committee: Elwira Chrusciel, Evgenia Kulikova, Monika Malicka, Wanda Nowicka, Entela Shehu,  Aleksandra Solik.

Supported by: Open Society Institute and International Women's Health Coalition