CEE Bulletin on Sexual and Reproductive Rights 

No 6 (40) 2006


table of contents:






The Political Declaration adopted by the UN General Assembly during the High-Level Meeting on AIDS proved to be much weaker than its earlier drafts. The document reaffirms commitments made by governments in 2001 and acknowledges that, although some progress have been made, many targets have not yet been met. It expresses deep concern over the feminization of the pandemic and recognizes gender inequalities and all forms of violence against women as factors increasing their vulnerability to HIV/AIDS. Commitments were made to ensure that women can exercise their right to have control over their sexuality and to the goal of achieving universal access to reproductive health by 2015. The document also recognizes that over half of the new infections are among children and young people under the age of 25.


The States and Governments pledged the effective response and comprehensive approach to the pandemic which should reinforce treatment, care, support and evidence-based prevention, including responsible sexual behavior, youth friendly services and condom use. They also committed to intensify efforts towards the development of affordable HIV/AIDS-related medicines, products and technologies, including vaccines, female control methods and microbicides.


However, the international civil society organizations expressed their disappointment because of the lack of certain important provisions. Youth Coalition in their statement stressed that “the absence of specific language such as comprehensive sexuality education, empowerment of girls, discriminated populations, sexual and reproductive rights and marital rape as one of the forms of sexual violence, leaves the declaration weak and ambiguous.” Human Rights Caucus stated that “the political declaration undermines the realization of human rights and is detrimental to an effective response to pandemic”.


Although the States commit to intensify efforts to ensure wide range of prevention programs, they weaken this declaration by the reservation that these programs should take account of “local circumstances, ethics and cultural values”. This includes inter alia the US requirement from organizations receiving federal funds for combating AIDS to oppose prostitution, which in practice is a form of a ban on prevention programs for sex workers. In the press release the international civil society stressed also that the UN Member States rejected acknowledgement that some of today’s fastest growing HIV epidemics are happening among injecting and other drug users, sex workers and men that have sex with men. Avoiding listing vulnerable groups may lead to serious consequences resulting in less resources and energy for project addressing the needs of these vulnerable groups.


During one of the Civil Society panels, parallel to government negotiations, ASTRA representative Wanda Nowicka had an opportunity to present the network’s perspective. The Panel on Ending the increased feminization of AIDS was convened by the UNFPA and chaired by Thoraya Ahmed Obaid, the Executive Director of UNFPA. The Panel recommended to take immediate action to prevent spread of the virus and further feminization of pandemic.









Azerbaijan: Gender equality promotion bill. Commissions on Human Rights and Law Policy & Statehood Affairs of Milli Majlis, the Azerbaijan Parliament, are working on gender equality promotion bill which aims at guaranteeing men and women equal rights in political, economic, social, cultural and other fields of public life as well as at eliminating all forms of discrimination on gender basis. The bill addresses the issues of equal pay and compensations for suffering from discrimination on gender grounds.


More: http://www.demaz.org/cgi-bin/e-cms/vis/vis.pl?s=001&p=0055&n=001499&g


Hungary: Contraceptive sterilization. Constitutional Court of Hungary repealed the restrictions on sterilization at the request of a person wanting to use this form of contraception. The Court found the law granting requests only to women over 35 or those who had given birth to at least three children discriminatory. If the law is not changed, contraceptive sterilization procedure on request will be available to any woman over 18 after the three month waiting period. The decision of the Court aroused the protest of professional board of Hungarian Gynecologists and the opposition Fidesz-KNDP alliance declared that it will submit a bill granting contraceptive sterilization only to women in poor health.



Lithuania: Human rights protection. Human rights situation in Lithuania is bad, indicated experts, 16 May, 06. According to Human Rights Monitoring Institute, there is no Human Rights Policy in Lithuania, social rights were not adequately protected in 2005, and European Social Charter has not been implemented, especially in the area of women’s and maternal rights. Therefore the birth rate decreased by 12% in a decade.


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Lithuania: Governmental Drug Control Agency and the head of Health Committee of Lithuanian Parliament officially asked the Family Planning and Sexual Health Association to stop spreading information on emergency contraception and medical abortion indicating that the information constitutes an advertisement of the drugs available on prescription or those illegal in Lithuania (RU 486) and therefore is harmful to the population. Actually, the information does not provide the names of the drugs. It only informs women about their sexual and reproductive health and rights. Nevertheless, anti-choice organizations and persons press the Association not to provide the health information.

Family Planning and Sexual Health Association of Lithuania,
more information: lithfpa@takas.lt


Poland: Protests against newly appointed minister of education. For almost a month young people have been organizing protests against the appointment of Roman Giertych for the minister of education. Giertych is the leader of ultra-conservative catholic League of Polish Families (LPR) well known for its xenophobia, homophobia and anti-Semitism. He is also a son of Maciej Giertych, a co-organizer of the controversial, anti-abortion exhibition „Life and Children in Europe”  which was removed from  EU Parliament in November. LPR strongly opposes abortion rights, access to contraception and sex education. Minister Giertych has already made the final decision of including catechism classes on the list of school subjects with secondary school final examination status. The ministry of education headed by him has also declared that it will not support the organizations which “deprave” young people. The decision was made after the new ministerial authorities had discovered that the association “Campaign against Homophobia” received the EU Youth Project funds for the project “Do we need gender?” last year. 

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Poland: Parade for gay and lesbian rights: The vice-president of League of Polish Families and the member of Polish Parliament, Wojciech Wierzejski, announced in the interview for the daily “Zycie Warszawy” that the Warsaw equality parade for gay and lesbian rights should be banned and “the deviants” who will participate in it in spite of the ban should be “bashed up”. The same should happen to German politicians supporting the event since “they are not serious politicians but just gays”. Wierzejski concluded that once beaten, the foreigners will never come back again as “gay in fact means coward”.


Hot news:

·         Claudia Roth, the leader of the German Green Party, submitted to the prosecutor’s office in Berlin notification of the crime of incitement to violence committed by Wojciech Wierzejski.

·         The local authorities of several Polish towns introduced an unconstitutional ban on showing  the  movie Da Vinci Code in the cinemas.

Federation for Women and Family Planning


Russia: HIV/AIDS Regional Conference. The first Eastern European and Central Asian AIDS Conference was held in the middle of May  in Moscow. The meeting was attended by hundreds of experts, officials and advocates from the region. The goal of the conference was to strengthen a large-scale response to HIV/AIDS in the region through high level political commitment, capacity building as well as creating partnership with civil society and people living with HIV/AIDS. The AIDS situation across the region, including the spread of the epidemic among women, continues to worsen. In 2005 AIDS killed over 50,000 people in the region, which was almost twice as much as in 2003. By the end of 2005 only about 13% of the people in need of treatment were receiving it. In the keynote speech the head of UNAIDS, dr. Peter Piot, stressed that for the effective response to epidemic four factors are needed: strong leadership commitment beginning from the most senior levels of politics and government; universal access for all HIV services, spanning HIV prevention, treatment, care and support;  money and the ability to make the money work.

http://www.eecaac2006.org/eng ; http://www.unaids.org/en


Russia: Committee on HIV/AIDS. According to dr. Genady Onishchenko, Head of Federal Service of Russia, the Russian government is planning to create a coordination committee to address the HIV/AIDS epidemic. The Russian government announced that this year it will allocate $173 million for HIV/AIDS program which is more than a 30-fold increase over last year’s allocation. Next year the amount is to be further increased by more that $100 million. Last month President Vladimir Putin called for raising HIV/AIDS awareness in the country. There were also other calls from officials and politicians for campaigns to promote condom use, needle exchange programs and training specialists in sex education for school children.

Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 4/25).


Russia: Financial incentives to reverse demographic trends. President Vladimir Putin called the Parliament to enact programs of financial incentives for women in order to increase the birth rate which has been low in Russia for about 20 years. The country’s population decreases by 700,000 each year, but experts point out that women’s fertility itself cannot reverse the trend. Analysts at the World Bank and the United Nations state that high number of deaths caused by poor health of Russian people and fatal injuries among men is another important reason for the decline. Also the recent infections with tuberculosis and HIV can in the near future significantly influence the death rate if comprehensive health programs are not adopted. Although many women may welcome the plans of introducing financial incentives, not all people believe that this is the way to increase the birth rate. Financial problems are only partly the reason for people to decide on a low number of children. According to some experts it can be also explained by inadequate infrastructure: schools, hospitals, transportation, etc.

PUSH, New York Times          


Romania: Government for informing  HIV positive children. The Romanian government is encouraging parents of children infected as toddlers with HIV virus through blood transfusions to inform their children about their health status. In Romania more than 20% of about 6000 HIV positive children are unaware of the fact that they have been infected. 

Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS report (17 May)


Central and Eastern Europe: Gender equality in EU member states from CEE. In April the UNIFEM Regional Office for Central and Eastern Europe convened a meeting attended by representatives of national gender equality institutional mechanisms  and non-governmental organizations from new EU member states, candidate countries and those striving for membership. The meeting aimed at assessing the situation of gender equality in new Member States two years after joining the European Union. Among common concerns identified by the participants was the backlash which can be observed in some states after they received the EU member status as well as the rise of conservative, nationalist or religious forces undermining gains of feminist and women’s organizations. The demoting of gender equality mechanisms in Poland is a stark example of that. The participants expressed their concern that EU directives focus only gender equality on labour market issues and neglect other areas fundamental for achieving gender equality. They recommended, among others, that EU gender equality commitment should be reflected in resource allocations and funding mechanisms should be reexamined to ensure support for gender equality work inside and outside EU as well as providing support for smaller NGOs now lacking capacity for such matching funds requirements. The group also recommends that EU supported the governmental mechanisms that work but advocate for change if they do not work.











Argentina: Abortion law changes considered. Argentina is in a process of revising its penal code. In the new code the article addressing abortion states that the woman is not punishable when the abortion is carried out “with her consent and within three months of conception, provided the circumstances made it excusable.” At present abortion in Argentina is legal only in the case of rape and when the woman’s life is in danger. The humanity of the fetus “from the moment of conception” is recognized in the Argentinean constitution.

Worldbytes news


Colombia: Abortion – landmark decision by Constitutional Court. The Constitutional Court of Colombia ruled, in a decision 5 to 3, that abortion should be legal in some circumstances: when a pregnancy threatens a woman’s life or health, the pregnancy is a result of rape, or the fetus has malformation incompatible with life outside womb. Until now Colombia was one of three countries in Latin America (together with Chile and El Salvador) with a complete ban on abortion. Recent support for the decriminalization of abortion was spurred by the case of a 34-year-old mother of four dying of ovarian cancer. She was denied an abortion after the cancer had been diagnosed in the third week of pregnancy and thus deprived of chemotherapy and radiation.  



Spain: Rights of transsexuals. The Spanish Minister for Justice informed the congress that he will push forward the new Sexual Identity Law allowing transsexuals to legally change their name and sex on their identity documents before or without having surgery.

Spanish Federation of Family Planning


United States: Teen abstinence pledges do not work. According to the report released by Harvard University 52% of teenagers who pledged to remain abstinent until marriage had sex within a year of signing the pledge. The National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health surveyed 14,000 adolescents ages 12 to 18 in 1995, then again in 1996 and 2001. 73% of young people who reported signing the pledge but later had sex denied making the pledge when interviewed again. Nearly one-third of the respondents who during the first interview said that they had sex, during the next survey said that they had never had sexual intercourse before. The findings of the study question the reliability of the abstinence programs. The US government is spending $170 million a year to promote virginity until marriage in public schools.

Kaiser Daily, PUSH


United Nations: UNAIDS Report. According to new data revealed in the UNAIDS 2006 Report on the Global Aids Epidemic there is an important progress in country AIDS response, including increase in funding and access to treatment and decrease in HIV prevalence among young people in some countries during the last five years. The epidemic seems to be slowing down on a global scale. However, in certain regions and countries new infections are continuing to increase, especially in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. Worldwide an estimated 38.6 million people are living with HIV. In 2005 about 4.1 million people became newly infected and approximately 2.8 million people died of AIDS. The report also showed that children and young people are increasingly affected by the epidemic and the efforts to protect them are not keeping pace with the epidemic impact.



United Nations: Members to Human Rights Council elected. On May 9 the General Assembly of the United Nations elected 47 members of the newly established  UN  Human Rights Council. The regions: Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, Western Europe and Other States obtained or exceeded the required 96-vote majority needed to fill their allocated number of members. Eastern Europe States won only three sits in first round (Russian Federation, Poland, Czech Republic) and the three next (Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Romania) were elected in the second ballot.

UN News


United Nations: Two LGBT organizations denied observer status. LSVD, the German LGBT federation and ILGA-Europe’s applications to obtain observer status at the United Nations were rejected last week at the UN Economic and Social Council Committee on Non-governmental organizations. The proposal of Iran to deny observer status was supported by 9 members of the Committee with 7 votes against, 2 abstentions and 1 not present. In general, statements before the vote and explanations of position , the representatives of Germany, France, Chile, Romania, India and Peru expressed concern  that there seems to be a discriminatory trend. In January this year the applications of two gay and lesbian organizations were also rejected without a fair hearing.



World Health Organization: Dr LEE Jong-wook, WHO Director-General, died suddenly on the morning of 22 May 2006 an hour before he was to address World Health Assembly. The WHO chose Dr Anders Nonstrom, an assistant director, as interim director general. During the emergency session the representatives from member states of World Health Organization asked the agency’s leaders to speed up the election of the new director. The rules do not specify the steps to be taken in case of the death of the leader.



Science: Male fertility. The IVF experts revealed the evidence proving that male fertility declines with age. The study from fertility clinics across France showed that women under 30 were 25% less likely to get pregnant if their partners were over 40 than if they were of similar age. The probability of conceiving was even less for women of the age 35-37 whose partners were over. This means that the reproductive age should no longer be considered as the problem of the women but as that of couples.

The Guardian   









Developing World Bioethics – call for papers. Developing World Bioethics special issue HIV/AIDS, Pregnancy and Reproductive Autonomy: Rights and Duties invites submission on all aspects on this special topic from bioethical and/or legal/human rights perspective. Submissions should ultimately seek to illuminate the parameters of reproductive autonomy at the intersection between HIV/AIDS and pregnancy. The deadline for submission is 1 July 2007. More information on the issue of particular interest and other guidelines for submission available at: http://www.blackwellpublishing.com/pdf/DWB_CfP.pdf 


Reproductive Health Matters – call for papers. Reproductive Health Matters 15(29) May 2007 invites submission about strategies for taking on the opposition to sexual and reproductive health and rights. The deadline for submission is 1 September 2006. More information on the guidelines of submission at: www.rhmjournal.org.uk  


EU at the UNGASS – the response to ASTRA letter to the Presidency of EU. In April ASTRA issued a letter to Austrian Presidency calling on EU, among other issues, to strengthen further commitments during the UNGASS review to effective HIV/AIDS prevention strongly interlinked with SRHR policies and programs. In the response to the letter the EU Presidency assured ASTRA that EU is well aware of the important issues raised in the letter and the need to link S&RH with HIV/AIDS services as well as of the need to increasingly involve S&RH organizations in the prevention and treatment process.

More at: http://www.astra.org.pl


UN General Assembly High Level Meeting on AIDS. The UN high level meeting on AIDS took place in New York on May 31-June 2. The meeting was attended by the leaders of over 140 UN Member States, including a dozen Heads of State and Government. The 2006 Declaration agrees that 20-23 billion US dollars is needed for AIDS response by 2010. It calls for the development of improved drugs, diagnostics and prevention technologies and reaffirms that the World Trade Organization’s Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) does not prevent countries from protecting public health through the production of generic drugs. The full text of the draft Declaration is available at: http://www.un.org/ga/aidsmeeting2006








Youth for Youth – Combat HIV/AIDS: The 2nd regional meeting aimed at developing regional youth projects combating HIV/AIDS will take place on June 24-28 2006  in Croatia.


XVI International AIDS Conference: XVI International AIDS Conference will take place in Toronto, Canada on August 13-18. The conference will be an opportunity for scientists, governments, community members and leaders from around the world to advance a collective response to the epidemic. More information available at: http://www.aids2006.org







·         Gender Informational Network of South Caucus: http://www.ginsc.net/members/mission_en.php



·         Empowering Girls to beat HIV/AIDS http://www.girlsrights.org/factsheets/Empower%20Girls%20web%20version.pdf – fact sheet issued by Working Group on Girls - a special NGO website dedicated to the truth that all girls everywhere have the right to develop to their full potential: http://www.girlsrights.org/whatsnew.php


·         Data on HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria by countries are provided at:  http://www.globalhealthreporting.org 









UNAIDS 2006 Report on the Global AIDS Epidemic released by in advance of the UN General Assembly High Level Meeting on AIDS. Key findings of the report refer to funding, HIV prevention, reducing vulnerability, treatment and leadership. The full report is available at:



State of the World’s Mothers 2006. Saving the lives of Mothers and Newborns - report published by Save the Children takes a closer look at the link between the health and survival of mothers and babies, narrowing in on simple, affordable solutions that can help save 3 million of the 4 million newborns who die every year. Full text of the report available at: 


A Youth Activist's Guide to Sexual and Reproductive Rights published by The Youth Coalition. The Guide provides an overview of the sexual and reproductive rights that are protected by international and regional human rights treaties and other agreements, shows how these rights apply to adolescents and young people, and discusses ways that young people can advocate for their sexual and reproductive health and rights within their countries, regions, and globally.

The guide is available at: http://www.youthcoalition.org


Reproductive Health and Human Rights: Integrating Medicine, Ethics and Law, by Rebecca J. Cook, Bernard M. Dickens and Mahmoud F. Fathalla (Oxford University Press, 2003, 554pp.)  is now available in French, Spanish, Portuguese and Chinese translations, and forthcoming in Arabic.  The book is designed to equip health care providers and administrators to integrate ethical, legal, and human rights principles  in protection and promotion of reproductive health, and to inform lawyers and women's health advocates about aspects of medicine and health  care systems that affect reproduction. 
More information available at:


A handbook for advocacy in the African human rights system: Advancing reproductive and sexual health. Second edition published by IPAS.  The updated version of this handbook was created to familiarize advocates with the regional human rights system and its treaty body, The African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights, designed to promote and protect sexual and reproductive health. The publication available at:


Woman-centered abortion care: Reference manual published by IPAS now available in French. The manual is designed to be used by participants during individualized and group-based courses and also as a reference manual to help participants refresh and strengthen their skills. Composed of 13 modules, it brings a new perspective to abortion-care training and service delivery. Features include: a woman's rights approach to abortion care; unique considerations for special populations, including adolescents and survivors of sexual violence; guidance for use of both manual vacuum aspiration and medical-abortion technologies; and recommendations for monitoring services and making linkages to communities. Hard copies can be ordered at: ipas_publications@ipas.org


Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting: A statistical exploration. The publication issued by UNICEF analyses available statistics on female genital mutilation/cutting, with the aim of improving understanding of related issues in the wider context of gender equality and social change. The study centres on women aged 15-49 and their daughters, presenting estimates and examining differentials in prevalence, and highlighting patterns within the data that can strategically inform programmatic efforts. The publication is available at:



Public Choices, Private Decisions: Sexual and Reproductive Health and the Millennium Development Goals. The report published by the UN Millennium Project, an independent advisory body commissioned by the UN Secretary-General to propose the best strategies for meeting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Report and background papers are available at: http://www.unmillenniumproject.org/reports/srh_main.htm

Human resources for sexual and reproductive health care; Reproductive Health Matters, vol. 14 (27), May 2006. Among other topics the issue contains the Ethical guidelines on conscientious objections of FIGO Committee for Ethical Aspects of Human Reproduction and Women’s Health.



Abortion in women’s lives – report published by Guttmacher Institute concerns the situation of women in US.