CEE Bulletin on Sexual and Reproductive Rights 

No 2(46) 2007


table of contents:




Referendum on decriminalization of voluntary abortion in Portugal
will take place on 11th of February. Portuguese electorate will be put before this question for the second time. In 1998 the anti-choice circles won slightly. But what will happen this time? Pro-choice movement around the globe has mobilized and solidarized to advocate for ‘yes’ in the referendum. Activists have been gathering support among the international health care community and sexual and reproductive health and rights advocates. They believe as do the European Parliament, United Nations and World Health Organization that access to safe and legal abortion will reduce the alarming number of 68 thousands of women’s deaths a year due to complications resulting from clandestine abortions, as well as cases of hospitalization. The polls indicate that approximately 64% of Portuguese voters might be for the legalization of abortion till ten weeks, but there is a threat that the high abstinence rate might invalidate the referendum itself.         








KAZAKHSTAN: Eighty children contracted HIV in hospitals. This tragedy reminds us of the alarming increase of HIV/AIDS cases in the country    The hospitals from the Shymkent region are responsible for infecting children with HIV through blood transfusions. As a result, eight infants died. This tragedy provides grounds to discuss the HIV/AIDS problem in Kazakhstan and evaluate the state’s policies to fight the disease.

According to World Bank’s assessments, the country suffers form being at the forefront of the pandemic and the number of infections has doubled each year since 2000. But those estimates relate to officially recorded cases – 7000 in total. Other sources, for example UNICEF, indicate that the real number of HIV-positive children and adults might be up to three times higher.

Experts are concerned with the lack of an effective national policy to fight HIV/AIDS. There is no sexuality education, that has to be recognized as the primary preventative mean, provided at schools.

Source: Kaiser 03/01/2007 



LATVIA & POLAND: Amnesty International reports on lesbians, gay, bisexuals and transgender rights. Human rights of LGBT persons are violated in Latvia and Poland and those countries do not comply with international legal framework that relates to sexual minorities, experts claim. Amnesty International is especially concerned about infringements on freedom of expression and assembly in both examined countries. Moreover, the overt homophobia expressed by some prominent public figures in Poland has been recognized as a grave problem. As far as Poland is concerned, there are also legal deficiencies. For example, in the Polish constitutional prohibition of discrimination, there is no reference to sexual orientation and gender identity. Similarly to Poland, there have been instances of banning marches and demonstrations in Latvia.

Comprehensive information available at: http://web.amnesty.org/library/Index/ENGEUR010192006?open&of=ENG-347    



POLAND: HPV Vaccine on the agenda. National Action with NGOs participation to fight cervical cancer, that was launched a year ago, finally becomes visible to the public. There is a widely recognizable media campaign, that consists of TV spots and adverts in the press, including the most popular daily newspapers. Forty information desks have been established in various cities of the country to counsel women. Beyond any shadow of a doubt, many Polish women learned about human papillomavirus, and how to protect themselves from it, for the first time in their lives. 

The number of deaths caused by cervical cancer in Poland is the highest in Europe. Every day, five Polish women die of this type of cancer, which is the second most frequently recorded one. Thus the lack of awareness of the preventative measures – regular pap smear and HPV vaccine, which is available for Polish women since November 2006 - is extremely alarming.    




NGOs working in the field of sexual and reproductive health and rights appeal to candidates for Executive Director of Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (GFATM) to recognize the link between sexual and reproductive health and HIV. Nongovernmental organizations have found it hard to cooperate with GFATM in the battle against HIV due to the fact that the common ground for dialog was lacking. NGOs believe that integration of sexual and reproductive health information, services and supplies makes HIV prevention more effective. The election of the Executive Director is a great opportunity to advocate for that. In the letter to the candidates, NGOs list their recommendations, among others: inclusion of SRHR experts on the Board, greater involvement of SRH organizations in the Global Fund planning processes, improved proposal and technical guidance from the Secretariat regarding SRH-HIV and SRH-malaria. David Nabarro, a senior World Health Organization administrator is believed to have the greatest chance to be elected.



A threat of cutting down access to medical treatment for million of people from all over the world, including HIV-positive persons. India is known for the production of affordable medicines that save millions of lives a year, especially in developing countries. The country’s act on medicines enables pharmaceutical companies to produce affordable medicines, which will significantly increase their accessibility. There exists a possibility that this advantageous situation will be changed, which will result in millions of people suffering from no access to medical treatment. One of the pharmaceutical company Novartis is suing the Indian government for it’s patent law, which was designed to bring drug prices down. If it wins, India will no longer be able to produce affordable medicines. It’s worth to be conscious that this company has already been successful in overturning domestic laws on medicines in South Africa.


Medicines Sans Frontiers (www.msf.org) prepared a petition to Novartis to ‘Drop the case’.  If you want to support the protest against cutting down access to affordable medicines, please visit http://www.msf.org/petition_india/international.html and sign up a petition.       








International Development Conference: Innovation, Advancement, and Best Practices to achieve Global Goals. More Than 300 Renowned Speakers from North America, Africa, Asia, Latin America, and Europe Join over 1,500 leaders, doctors, professionals, and students from 5 continents for an engaging exchange of ideas and best practices.
When: April 14-15, 2007
Where: Stanford University School of Medicine, California, USA

Who should attend? Anyone interested in eye care, international health, medicine, health
education, health promotion, public health, international service, social entrepreneurship, nonprofits, or microenterprise  

More information available at: http://www.uniteforsight.org/conference/2007/







Funding Opportunities from The Global Fund for Women (GFW) GFW is ready to support NGOs that fight for the advancement of women outside the United States by providing small, flexible, and timely grants ranging from US$500 to US$20,000 for operating and project expenses. The groups considered for funding address issues that include but are not limited to: Building Peace & Ending Gender-Based Violence, Advancing Health and Sexual & Reproductive Rights, Expanding Civic & Political Participation, Ensuring Economic & Environmental Justice, Increasing Access to Education, Fostering Social Change Philanthropy.

If you are interested go to http://www.globalfundforwomen.org/cms/content/view/212/202/

for more details.


Transgender Religious Summit. The first event of this type took place last January. LGBT circles gathered to discuss actions that should be undertaken in order to break down the religious barriers to full inclusion of transgender and gender non-conforming people in religious communities and the nation as a whole. Generally, transsexuals are especially vulnerable for experiencing all forms of discrimination in their private and professional lives. This problem is especially vivid if they feel the divine call to become a religious leader. Especially if we take into account the Vatican’s harsh position on the issue. In 2003, for instance, the Roman Catholic Church stated that transgendered people suffer from mental pathologies and should be excluded from clergy.


More information at: http://www.exgaywatch.com/wp/2007/01/transgender-religious-summit/

I also strongly recommend Newsweek’s article: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/16774861/site/newsweek/








Sexuality Education in Europe: A reference guide to policies and practices. A valuable, useful and comprehensive publication, especially for those devoted to sexual and reproductive rights of young people. Provides a wide overview of different policies regarding sexuality education and various approaches towards it. The main focus is on sexuality education – its legal status and quality in 26 European Countries. The problem of how to reach young people with accurate information on sexuality and its importance is elaborated.

The publication also indicates that universal standards regarding sexuality education are lacking and each country develops its own policy toward the issue. Lack of set scientific standards results in the politicization of sexuality education and legal status of it being dependant on worldviews, such as Christian values.     


Gaining Ground – A Tool for Advancing Reproductive Rights Law Reform. A new publication of the Center for Reproductive Rights is a resource for SRHR advocates promoting law reform at the national level. It aims to help generate ideas for country’s reforms. ‘Gaining Ground’ also exemplifies the link between sexual and reproductive health, including access to supplies, and the quality of other aspects of women’ lives. When women are denied their fundamental rights to freely decide about their bodies and lives, they can’t enjoy their rights to participate fully in education, work and politics. Legal reform is a key to ensuring women’s reproductive rights and their equality in society. 

The publication can be download from:  http://www.reproductiverights.org/pub_bo_gainingground.html



Community Home-Based Care Training – A Handbook for Community Health Workers. Issued by Pathfinder International, guide for trainers to facilitate workshops for people living with HIV/AIDS, elaborates also on how to transfer knowledge and skills to caregivers and community home-based care clients. It is a peer-reviewed journal. The authors propose participatory learning methodology that does not require high literacy levels of participants. It includes comprehensive units that cover topics from HIV basics, communication skills, nursing care, nutrition, positive living, family planning, HIV prevention, ART, to community mobilization.


A Trainer’s  Guide is available at: http://www.pathfind.org/site/PageServer?JServSessionIdr001=9os31zcxg1.app5b&pagename=Publications_Training_and_Capacity_Building_CHBC

CD-Roms of the material are available by contacting tech-comm@pathfind.org