CEE Bulletin on Sexual and Reproductive Rights 

No 7 (41) 2006


table of contents:




According the organizers of the XVI International AIDS Conference which will take place in Toronto between the 13th and 18th of August, the list of 20,000 participants expected to attend the event includes former presidents Mary Robinson of Ireland and Bill Clinton of the United States, HRH Crown Princess Mette-Marit from Norway, Bill and Melinda Gates and Richard Gere. The scientific programme of the meeting will be particularly strong and will trace new trends in basic and clinical research, epidemiology, social science and policy. Out of the record number of nearly 13,000 abstracts submitted, over 4,500 have been selected for presentation: 366 as oral presentations, 199 as poster discussion and 4,000 as poster exhibition. Apart from the presentation of the latest research, the conference will provide the delegates with an opportunity to explore how best to prevent HIV and provide access to treatment and care. In a number of sessions, the conference will address inter alia empowering women and girls as a major priority for an effective response to the epidemic. It also includes sessions on the importance of women’s reproductive health and rights, including the rights of sex workers. The newly designed key challenge sessions will facilitate the exchange of information and sharing of experiences to address the following challenges:

• accelerating research to end the epidemic;
• expanding and sustaining human resources to increase prevention and treatment ;
• intensifying the involvement of affected communities;
• building new leadership.


The organizers reported that two million USD have been allocated for an International Scholarship Program which will allow 815 applicants out of 16,000 who applied to take part in the gathering. Most of them are from resource-limited countries. However, in some cases people who had been granted scholarships by the organizers have been denied Canadian visas. The problems have been experienced by applicants, some of whom are living with AIDS, from Nepal, Nigeria, India, South Africa, Viet Nam, Philippines, Sri Lanka and Fiji. The International AIDS Society is trying to solve these existing problems and prevent others from occurring by holding emergency meetings with Canadian officials.

More information on the conference schedule, including satellite sessions and affiliated events is available at: www.aids2006.org







Bulgaria: Retrial of medical workers accused of infecting Libyan children with HIV. Five Bulgarian nurses and one Palestinian physician plead not guilty to the charge of infecting Libyan children with HIV. They claim that they were forced to confess by Libyan officers who used psychological torture measures against them during the interrogations. The medical workers were sentenced to death by firing squad in May 2004, but the Libyan Supreme Court overturned the convictions in December 2005 and ordered the retrial in the lower court. The retrial began in May. The attorneys for the accused say that the June testimony of Libyan medical experts was inaccurate and contradicted forensic evidence. They requested that international HIV/AIDS experts be allowed to testify at the retrial. In 2005, Luc Montagnier, the co-discoverer of HIV, testified that HIV was present at the hospital where the defendants were employed prior to their arrival.
Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report

Czech Republic: Decreasing sale of condoms. The decreasing fear of HIV infection and the popularity of modern contraception seems to be the reason for the drop in the sale of condoms in the Czech Republic. According to the experts, 54 percent of Czechs have had unsafe sex which places the country 12th in the ranking of 41 states. Czechs have become less cautious about HIV/AIDS than at the beginning of the 1990s since the dramatic forecasts concerning the spread of the epidemic proved to be wrong. In the years 1985-2005, 827 HIV-positive people were registered. 118 of them died.

Georgia: Reproductive health project for youth. In June, the Inter European Parliamentary Forum on Population and Development (IEPFP), UNFPA and the EU launched a three year project to promote youth reproductive health in Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia. The project, entitled Reproductive Health Initiative for Youth in the South Caucasus, is a large scale initiative aimed at young people aged 15-24. It is designed to reach at least 50 percent of the region’s 2,860,000 youth. With the three year budget of 2,9 million Euros, the project aims at empowering young people to protect themselves from unwanted pregnancies, STIs (including HIV) and gender based violence by providing them with access to comprehensive youth friendly SRH services and products.

Georgia: Gender Network and Media: Integration and Mutual Empowerment - Fourth International Conference of Journalists. The meeting took place on 1-3 July, 2006 in Tbilisi, Georgia. The event was organized by Gender Media Caucasus Journalists Association.
The conference focused on the issues of effective cooperation between the media and local gender networks. The participants were journalists working on gender problems as well as non-governmental sector activists working in cooperation with the media.
The goals of the conference were to analyze cooperation between the networks and media of the post-soviet region, and to work out future joint ac
tions. Elwira Chrusciel represented the ASTRA Bulletin crew during this meeting.

Kyrgyzstan: the initiative to stricken the abortion law overturned. The parliament of Kyrgyz Republic decided that the initiative of the Ombudsman to restrict abortion law is unjustified. The proposal aimed at introducing criminal liability for women and medical workers terminating 12-22 week pregnancies for social reasons. The initiative was strongly opposed by Reproductive Health Alliance and other NGOs of Kyrgyzstan, who in response initiated an advocacy program for women’s right to abortion. ASTRA Network sent a letter to Kyrgyz Republic’s Representatives expressing concern caused by the proposed repressive sanctions. The letter also conveyed confidence that the President of Kyrgyz Republic, Members of the Parliament, and the Government will not allow the adoption of the Ombudsman’s proposition because it violates fundamental human rights and contradicts both national and international legislation.
Reproductive Health Alliance, Kyrgyzstan; http://www.astra.org.pl/kyrgyz_abortion.pdf

Poland: Abortion case admissible. The European Court of Human Rights declared the case of Tysiac v. Poland admissible. The Court stated that the application "raises serious issues of fact and law under the Convention, the determination of which requires an examination of the merits." Alicja Tysi¹c, now awaiting the Court’s decision, was refused abortion although the pregnancy could severely damage her eyesight. Polish law allows the termination of pregnancy if it puts the woman’s health or life at risk.
Federation for Women and Family Planning

Poland: ministry of education against the EC human rights manual. Roman Giertych, the minister of education and the leader of the ultra-conservative party, League of Polish Families, dismissed the director of the Center for the Professional Training of Teachers for publishing and promoting the official manual of the European Council aimed at preparing young people to participate in the life of civil society and democratic state. One of the reasons Giertych found the book unacceptable was that it recognized gay and lesbian rights. Although his decision has raised protests from teachers, youth and civil society organizations, the minister has not changed it.
Federation for Women and Family Planning

ASTRA granted observatory status. ASTRA – Central and Eastern European Women’s Network for Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights has been accepted to be an observer at the HIV/AIDS Civil Society Forum of the European Commission for the term until the end of August, 2007. ASTRA





Finland: Ban on the purchase of sex services. In June, Finnish parliament approved a law partially banning the purchase of sex services. Under the new law, paying for sex services of an individual who is a victim of human trafficking or pimping carries a maximum penalty of six months imprisonment. The parliament rejected the draft law criminalizing all purchase of sex services as well as the bill banning the sale of sexual services.

Ireland: The Alliance for Choice, a national grassroots organization, has called for abortion to be legalized in Ireland after statistics had been published by the British Department of Health. The data indicate that each day, 15 Irish women travel to Britain to have an abortion. In 2005, 5,585 women from Ireland terminated their pregnancy in Great Britain.
http://www.rte.ie/news/2006/0705/print/abortion.html; WUNRN

IPPF: New executive director. Dr. Gill Greer
, the executive director of the Family Planning Association of New Zealand, has been appointed the new Director-General of the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF). Dr. Greer will be taking up her post based at IPPF’s London office in September, 2006 following the retirement of current Director-General, Dr. Steven Sinding.

European Union: Discrimination against Roma Women. In a report adopted in June, the European Parliament called for measures to combat the extreme levels of multiple discrimination faced by Roma women. Roma women are among the most vulnerable people in Europe. The Parliament urges the Member States, among other issues of concern, to prevent and outlaw coercive sterilization, provide redress for such abuse, promote family planning and alternatives to early marriage. It also calls for eliminating racially segregated maternity wards, measures to help victims of domestic violence and vigilance regarding the trafficking of Roma women. According to the Parliament, the situation of Roma women should be a key criterion for evaluating states of readiness for accession to the EU.

European Court of Human Rights: Abortion case rejected. The case D. v. Ireland that could challenge the ban on abortion in Ireland has been declared inadmissible by the European Court of Human Rights on the ground that the applicant had not exhausted domestic remedies since she had not brought the case to the Irish courts. The case was brought before the ECHR by a woman who was pregnant with twins in 2002. After the antenatal tests indicated that one fetus died in the womb and the second had a fatal chromosomal abnormality -Trisomy 18, or Edward’s Syndrome - she decided to terminate the pregnancy. She did not seek legal advice on her eligibility for abortion in Ireland and instead obtained an abortion in the UK. Abortion is allowed in Ireland only in the case of “a real and substantial risk to the life of the mother”. The applicant claimed that the lack of abortion services in the case of lethal fetal abnormality and the present law infringe on her rights. The Irish Family Planning Association who lodged an amicus brief in support of the complaint in 2005, said that the ECHR declaration was disappointing. IFPA informed the media that it facilitated the complaint of three women living in Ireland who were challenging abortion restrictions. According to IFPA, the basis of their complaint is significantly different from that made by ‘D’ and ECHR decision is unlikely to have implication on it.
http://www.echr.coe.int/echr; http://www.ifpa.ie/news/index.php?mr=125

Court of Justice of the European Communities: Medical treatment abroad in EU states.
On May 16, in the case of Ivonne Watts v. Bedford Primary Care Trust and Secretary of State for Health, the Court of Justice ruled that the patient’s national health services should reimburse her/him for the cost of hospital treatment provided in another member state even when the service is provided for free in the country of residence. According to the Court’s judgment, the patient can be refused authorization to receive treatment abroad if the health insurance fund “shows that the waiting time does not exceed the medically acceptable period having regard to the patient’s condition and clinical needs.” The Court’s judgment may prove important for women in EU states who are denied access to abortion services to which they are entitled within the legally defined timeframe.
Court of Justice of EC: www.curia.europa.eu/en/actu/communiques/cp06/aff/cp060042en.pdf

Science: Condom use lowers the risk of HPV-related disease. A new study published in The New England Journal of Medicine reports that women whose partners always use condoms are 70 percent less likely to acquire HPV infection than women whose partners use condoms less than 5 percent of the time. In almost all cases, cervical cancer is caused by HPV. The study was performed by researchers from the University of Washington. It provides evidence that condoms are effective in reducing the risk of HPV. Until this study, solid evidence proved that condoms prevent pregnancy, HIV infections and, in the case of men, gonorrhea.

Science: Womb transplants. According to scientists from Sahlgrenska Academy in Gothenburg, Sweden, womb transplant in humans should be possible within five years. Scientists have recently succeeded in transplanting uteruses in sheep. They claim that in future the best womb donor would be the recipient’s mother or older sister in order to minimize the risk of immune rejection.








IAPAC European Session 2006. The International Association of Physicians in AIDS Care (IAPAC) and the European AIDS Clinical Society (EACS) will co-host the third annual IAPAC European Sessions in Budapest. They will take place on 12-13 October 2006. This year's Sessions include: implications of a decade of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART), navigating ARV drug resistance, sociobehavioural Aspects of HIV Care and emerging issues in HIV Care.
To see the full program and outstanding faculty presenters, visit the IAPAC Web site, www.iapac.org

7th Congress of FIAPAC. International Federation of Professional Abortion and Contraception Associates organizes its 7th annual congress, “Freedom and rights in reproductive heath”. The conference will take place on 13/14 October 2006 in Rome, Italy. The preliminary program of the meeting is available at: http://www.fiapac.org/e/RomePrelProgr2.html

World Youth Forum. The annual World Youth Forum (WYF), which will bring together 140 young persons from over 35 countries will take place from 10-15 August in Bucharest, Romania. More information is available at: www.youth-policies.org  




Women on Web: the on-line abortion help service for women living in countries where access to safe abortion services is restricted.
The website is: www.womenonweb.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 and updates to the book are available at:

Preventing unsafe abortion and the consequences: priorities for research and action, the book edited by Ina K. Warriner and Iqbal Shah, is now available for free download online from:  http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/2006/07/10/PreventingUnsafeAbortion.pdf

Youth’s Voice. Report on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights in the Central and Eastern Europe and Balkan Countries published ASTRA Youth Group is now available. Hard copies can be obtained from ASTRA secretariat. The electronic version is available at: http://www.astra.org.pl/youth_report.pdf

Woman-centered abortion care: Reference manual. The manual is now available in Spanish. It is designed to be used by participants during individual 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 medication-abortion technologies; and recommendations for monitoring services and making linkages to communities. This publication is not available online. To order a hard copy, please e-mail ipas_publications@ipas.org