CEE Bulletin on Sexual and Reproductive Rights 

No 9 (43) 2006


table of contents:





The coalition of 8 organizations advocating for sexual rights form Asia, Africa, Latin America, the Middle East, Eastern Europe, and North America delivered a statement which was presented during the 2nd session of the Human Rights Council by Sandeep Prasad of ACPD (Action Canada for Population and Development).
In their statement the advocates recommended that a Special Procedure mandate on emerging issues be created to investigate and report on human rights issues that do not fall within an existing mandate or are peripheral issues within a mandate. This Special Procedure would also have authority to give recommendations to the Council on mandate creation. It could be constituted as a working group of independent human rights experts with experience in diverse areas of human rights. The sexual rights advocates believe that such Special Procedure would allow unexamined or under-examined issues to receive attention they deserve. “Since sexuality is central to being human, sexual rights should be among the first issues to be addressed by this new Special Procedure” says the statement. It also stresses that the sexual and reproductive rights are not adequately protected by the present Special Procedures system. Several issues which belong to the area of sexual rights are either not covered by the existing mandates or are only peripheral issues within a mandate. 
Human Rights Council has been established to replace the Commission on Human Rights which was criticized for its ineffective approach to human rights violations caused mainly by the fact that the states responsible for the violations were often part of the Commission. The newly established Human Rights Council is subsidiary directly to UN General Assembly while the Commission was reporting to ECOSOC (Economic and Social Council). According to paragraph 6 of the GA resolution establishing the HRC, the Council should “assume, review and when necessary improve all mandates, mechanisms, functions and responsibilities” of the Commission and work out, within a year after its first session, a system of special procedures, expert advice and a complaint procedure.
Due to the large number of draft proposals the Human Rights Council has suspended its second session until 27 November. When the Council concludes taking action on these proposals, it will immediately open its third session.

More information on UNHRC second session available at: http://www.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrcouncil/2session/index.htm







Azerbaijan, Georgia, Sakhalin: Pipeline projects generating increased prostitution and HIV/AIDS. According to the report released by CEE Bankwatch Network and Gender Action the pipeline projects conducted by BP in Azerbaijan and Georgia (BTC) and by Shell on Sakhalin Island (Sakhalin II) have had grave gender impact on local communities resulting in the increased poverty, prostitution, occurrence of stillbirths, HIV/AIDS and other diseases. The authors stress that neither the World Bank nor the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), involved in the BTC project as lenders, have safeguard policies protecting human rights of women.


Kyrgyzstan: domestic violence and bride-kidnapping. According to Human Rights Watch report “Reconciled to Violence: State Failure to Stop Domestic Abuse and Abduction of Women in Kyrgyzstan”, the government, despite progressive law, does not provide the victims of violence against women with access to justice and protective measures. Apart from domestic violence the report addresses the issue of abductions of girls and women for forced marriage, a practice known as “bride-kidnapping”. Although the act is being described by the officials as harmless and voluntary, women’s experiences prove it to be traumatic and violent. Although there are no statistical data on the number of such incidents or marriages resulting from kidnapping, the experts agree that the phenomena is on the rise. One of the reasons the practice is difficult to uproot is the belief that it is the part of the Kyrgyz tradition. However, NGO leaders and sociologists who examined the issue from a historical perspective say that marriages were traditionally arranged in Kyrgyzstan and abduction was rare in the past. These findings may help to implement laws against this form of violence and eradicate the abusive custom.
Human Rights Watch:
http://hrw.org/ http://hrw.org/english/docs/2006/09/27/kyrgyz14261.htm


Poland: Secretary General of the Council of Europe concerned over homophobia in Poland. Terry Davis, Secretary General of the Council of Europe, in an open letter sent to Polish daily “Gazeta Wyborcza” expressed his dissatisfaction with the explanations provided by the Polish government in reaction to the Council’s request for justification of the dismissal of the Director of National In-Service Teacher Training Center Miros³aw Sielatycki. Sielatycki was dismissed by Minister of Education, Roman Giertych, in June 2006 for issuing the Polish version of the Council’s official publication Compass – a manual on Human Rights Education for Young People. Since Compass addresses, among other issues, the problem of discrimination based on sexual orientation, Roman Giertych has found the manual unacceptable and decided that it “promotes homosexuality”. In his letter Terry Davis expressed concern about “some politicians promoting homophobia (…) and homophobic behaviours being accepted by the Government”. Davis stressed that education plays a key role in promoting the culture of tolerance and Compass is a valuable tool for educating young people in the field of human rights.
Federation for Women and Family Planning


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The Confederal Group of the European United Left – Nordic Green Left (GUE/NGL) in collaboration with the vice-chairperson of the Parliamentary Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality endorsed the letter to the President, Sejm and Senate of the Republic of Poland in which they expressed their deep concern following the proposal of the League of Polish Families to change the Polish Constitution in order to protect “the life of human beings form the moment of conception”. The letter contains an appeal to the Polish authorities to refuse all proposals that lead to limiting women's human rights: their right to life, health and dignity. http://www.federa.org.pl/english/news/Pologne.pdf


Russia: Access to Antiretroviral Drugs. The Pharmaceutical Company GlaxoSmithKline will supply the Russian government with 90,000 treatment packs of its antiretroviral drugs at discounted prices. This will help Russian authorities to meet their target and provide treatment to 15,000 HIV-infected persons by the end of 2006. Russian government plans to treat 30,000 HIV-patients in 2007.
Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report

Central and Eastern Europe: ASTRA Youth recommendations to DG SANCO. In the ASTRA Youth open letter to Robert Madelin, the head of Health and Consumer Directorate General, young people addressed the situation of young people in the CEE and Balkan countries in the context of the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Young people called upon the participants of the EU HIV/AIDS roundtable, which took place on 2 October, to take actions in order to guarantee young people from the region access to compulsory and comprehensive sexuality education. They stressed that measures undertaken to improve youth’s situation should ensure inter alia that sexuality education - scientifically based and non-biased and matching young people’s needs – is provided at schools and young people have access to youth friendly reproductive and sexual health services.
ASTRA Secretariat






United Kingdom: Emergency contraception and abortion. The statistics in the UK show that the increased use of emergency contraception has not decreased the rate of abortions. The EC has been available without prescription since 2001. Over the counter sales increased from 27 percent of all sales in 2003/2004 to 50 percent in 2004/2005. According to professor Anna Glasier, the director of family planning at the Lothian Primary Care NHS Trust in Edinburgh, women do not use emergency contraceptive pills even if they have them because they often are not aware that they are at risk of becoming pregnant. For some experts this proves that emergency contraception, although very useful for individual women, should not be treated by public health system as a method for reducing the number of unintended pregnancies. The focus should be rather on prevention before or during sex.

European Union: HPV Vaccine approved for sale. The European Commission approved Gardasil, human papillomavirus vaccine, for sale in the EU. The vaccine will be sold by Sanofi Pasteur by the end of October. According to Merck, which is the producer, the vaccine fully protects women, who do not have the virus, against HPV infection with strains 16 and 18, which together are responsible for 70 percent of cervical cancer cases, and is about 99 percent effective with HPV strains 6 and 11. Gardasil, which also prevents vaginal and vulvar cancer, will be marketed in EU to girls and women aged 9-26.
Kaiser Daily Women’s Health Policy

WHO: AIDS treatment access resolution dropped because of US position. The resolution calling for universal access to HIV/AIDS treatment has been withdrawn from WHO Asia-Pacific conference after the United States proposed its amendments. US officials pushed for removing phrases of support for needle exchange programs for drug addicts which aim at stopping the spread of HIV. Apart from that American officials insisted on changing the wording on high risk groups, including sex workers, intravenous drug users and men having sex with men. After the negotiations failed the New Zealand Health Minister Pete Hodgson, who chaired the conference, put it to the meeting that it was better not to have a resolution than to have one which would be weakened.
The Associated Press

Council of Europe: hearing on prostitution. At the hearing organized by Minodora Cliveti, the Chairperson of the Committee on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men of Parliamentarian Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), a comparative study of the situation of sex workers in member states was discussed by parliamentarians and experts. The motion for a resolution of PACE says that the differing legal status of prostitution in the European countries hinders the attempts to effectively fight forced prostitution, which is the only form of prostitution that is condemned in all states of Europe. Minodora Cliveti stressed that in countries where prostitution is a crime the penalties are usually stricter for prostitutes, most of whom are women, than for clients. This leads to unacceptable discrimination against women when prostitution is concerned.
European Council Portal









IAPAC European Sessions 2006. The third annual IAPAC Sessions will take place on 12-13 October 2006 in Budapest, Hungary. The symposium is co-hosted by International Association of Physicians in AIDS Care (IAPAC) and European AIDS Clinical Society (EACS). IAPAC European Sessions is allows HIV-treating healthcare professionals to learn from each other while working toward solutions to on-going clinical questions.  The program of the meeting is available at: http://www.iapac.org/home.asp?pid=7023


International Conference on HIV Treatment Adherence. International Association of Physicians in AIDS Care (IAPAC) organizes the 2nd International Conference on HIV Treatment Adherence which will take place on 28-30 March 2007 in Jersey City, USA. The goal of the conference is to provide an international forum for the presentation and discussion of state-of-the-science HIV treatment adherence research, as well as current behavioral and clinical perspectives in practicum. More information on registration and abstract submission deadlines at: http://www.iapac.org/home.asp?pid=7973


European AIDS Conference/EACS. The European AIDS Clinical Society (EACS) organizes 11th biennial European conference on clinical aspects and treatments of HIV. The meeting will take place 24-27 October 2007 in Madrid, Spain. The information on registration and submission deadlines are available at: http://www.eacs-conference2007.com/










The UN Millennium Development Goals Report Statistical Annex 2006: http://mdgs.un.org/unsd/mdg/Resources/Static/Data/UNSD%20MDG%20Report%202006%20Statistical%20Annex%20r15.pdf


Violence against Women in Georgia, August 2006. Alternative report, submitted on the occasion of the 36th session of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women by World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and the Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association (GYLA): http://www.omct.org/pdf/vaw/2006/CEDAW_36th/cedaw36_vaw_in_georgia_en.pdf   











IAPAC 2006 Antiretroviral Drug Guide. The guide features 20 US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved antiretroviral drugs currently used in the clinical management of HIV disease. Listings are by brand name within the four classes of antiretroviral drugs: nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor (NRTI), nonnucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor (NRTI), protease inhibitor (PI), and fusion inhibitor (FI). The guide is available at: http://www.iapac.org/home.asp?pid=7288

Georgia: Thousands suffering in silence: Violence against women in the family, Amnesty International, 2006. Report informs about tens of thousands of women in Georgia hit, beaten, raped and in some cases even killed by their husbands or partners. It outlines the government failure to protect women from further violence, to deal with complaints and to initiate criminal prosecutions. It calls on the authorities to implement recent legislation. It also includes testimonies of women who have survived domestic violence. More information on the report available at: http://www.amnestyusa.org/countries/georgia/document.do?id=ENGEUR560092006

Caucasia Magazine – Gender & Health, August 2006. The international information-analytical electronic magazine issued by International Coalition of Gender Journalists available at: http://www.gmc.ge/images/04KAVKAZIAJ-01E.html