CEE Bulletin on Sexual and Reproductive Rights 

No 5(49) 2007


table of contents:





YES Campaign: Youth Educated Sexually!!!  We would like to encourage you to support the Astra Youth Campaign on safer sex and promotion of condom use among young people by signing the manifesto prepared by the group which is available for you at: http://www.astra.org.pl/podpisy/    Astra Youth is a group of young activists from Central and Eastern Europe, as well as Balkan countries, who work in the field of sexual and reproductive health and rights. The major advocacy efforts of the group focus on comprehensive sexuality education, which is a precondition of effective HIV prevention. Astra Youth is highly alarmed with the growing HIV/AIDS pandemic in the CEE region. The rates of newly reported cases are the steepest in the world. Moreover, young people, especially young women, are becoming more and more vulnerable as a group. In this context, lack of adequate HIV preventative campaigns targeted at youth combined with the limited access to SRHR comprehensive information due to the lack of sexuality education at schools require urgent actions to be undertaken. Based on these concerns, Astra Youth developed its campaign to reach young people in the region with a message: If sex you choose, then condom use!

The launch of the campaign is going to take place in Zagreb, Croatia on 1st of June 2007 at the International Children’s Day.    







BULGARIA: Launch of the National Campaign for preventing trafficking in women. The overall aim of the campaign is to educate and sensitize the public about the problem of trafficking in humans, which is an especially burning issue in Bulgaria. The most vulnerable group is young women who are sold for forced prostitution. Various human right organizations estimate that the scope of the trafficking might be even 10 thousands women a year. At the launch of the campaign, that was co-organized by various NGOs, artistic event entitled “Traffic of people”   took place. Short films and other visual projects with the participation of Bulgarian celebrities were presented. This way of awareness raising is scheduled to last till September and is aimed at the general public.
More information is available at:
Source: NEWW 06/04/2007 


BULGARIA: experiences the lowest demographic growth in Europe. National Statistical Institute presented new data that indicate that Bulgaria has the lowest population growth rate in all of Europe. Although aging population appears to be actually a problem of the whole enlarged European Union, the situation in newest Member State seems most dramatic. The average age amounts to 41.4 years and the death rate is significantly higher than the European average. Moreover, the population growth rate constantly decreases and the overall number of population declines. Sexual and reproductive health and rights groups should keep an eye on the further developments of this situation and monitor governments responses to this problem.

Source: CCMC PUSH Journal    02/04/2007     


LITHUANIA: Problem of limited access to legal abortion. The heads of the hospitals, where abortion services are provided informed that about 2/3 of doctors in their clinics refuse to perform abortions. Abortion is legal in Lithuania, but many doctors report they feel guilty performing this procedure. In Lithuanian society’s opinion, abortion stands for killing human beings and normally doctors who refuse to perform abortions are praised.

The heads of hospitals asked the Ministry of Health to increase the price of abortion. Now women pay for abortion EUR 33, but this price does not cover expenses of the hospital. Family Planning and Sexual Health Association urged the Ministry of Health to form working group and to discuss possibilities to cover difference by health insurance. Women’s reproductive rights should be protected and the price of the abortion should not be increased.  

Esmeralda Kuliesyte, Family Planning and Sexual Health Association of Lithuania   


LATVIA: Ban on Parade was illegal - rules the Court. The Latvian Administrative Court of appellate jurisdiction found the ban on the Equality March organized by sexual minorities circles illegal. In July 2006, the city of Riga authorities did not allow the LGBT organizations to organize an annual parade. The organizers strongly disagreed with this unlawful decision and believed that their right of free assembly had been violated. The court supported the aggrieved party’s claims. Now, the city authorities have to reimburse the costs of the registration of the parade the organizers bore.  


POLAND: Parliament rejected proposed changes in the Constitution to totally ban abortion. This is a victory of pro-choice circles in Poland. The parliament did not approve the proposal to introduce protection of “unborn life” in the Constitution. All five amendments were rejected. Although supporters of the anti-choice changes of the Constitution had a majority, they did not manage to collect 2/3 of votes that were required. Out of 460 members of Parliament, 443 participated. 269 MPs voted in favor of the change, 121 – against, 53 – abstained. In order to win they should have 27 votes more.

The leader of the League of Polish Families, Roman Giertych, made a statement soon after the voting that his political party will continue efforts to strengthen legal protection of life.   

Source: Polish Federation for Women and Family Planning www.federa.org.pl  


South Caucasus Annual Youth Reproductive Health and Rights Forum in the Parliament of Georgia. Last month, governmental representatives from Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia as well as European Union officials and civil society including youth delegates gathered to discuss the challenges in improving the situation of youth’s sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR). The outcome of this youth-oriented event organized by European Parliamentary Forum on Population and Development (EPF) in cooperation with United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Georgia is a Statement of Commitment worked out by participants. The Statement focuses on achieving sustainable improvements in the field of SRHR of young people in South Caucasus. The Forum took place within the framework of Reproductive Health Initiative for Youth in the South Caucasus (RHIYC), which is a three-year initiative targeted at youth aged 15 to 24, with a particular focus on the most vulnerable groups. Young people are involved in the project design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation. The programme also includes the opening of 15 youth-friendly reproductive health centers.   


Young Women from Eastern Europe – victims of sex slavery. Unknown facts revealed by BBC Investigation. It is estimated that at least 85% of sex workers in British brothels come from Eastern European Countries. Among them there are as girls as young as 14 years old – claim children’s rights organizations. Juvenile trafficked children (aged 14-17) might account even up to 10% of victims. The BBC investigation reveals that a big number of people working in the sex industry are actually sex slaves trafficked from overseas. Young women from Eastern Europe are rather eager to migrate for economic reasons due to the difficult situation on the labour market in their home countries. This makes them especially vulnerable for trafficking. What is most dreadful is that family members or boyfriends are often a party of the sale transaction; and women are completely unaware of their real fate in the United Kingdom. According to the Home Office estimates, 4000 women were trafficked for sex exploitation in UK in 2003. But experts claim that the real scope of trafficking might be much more widespread than official statistics indicate. Moreover, the number of cases has risen since 2003 for sure.  

Full article on the BBC investigation is available at:



Women immigrating from Eastern Europe burden National Health System of Great Britain. Experts claim that increased immigration of women from the CEE region after EU enlargement in 2004 to the country has doubled the demand for reproductive health care services. The fertility rate is higher among immigrants , which significantly increases the medical professionals’ workload. The local health care systems also had to employ interpreters. Polish, Russian and Lithuanian are among the most needed acquaintances in medical centers. Eastern women are also looking for abortion services. According to official estimates, 25% of women who want to terminate pregnancy are from the CEE region. Experts anticipate that sustaining influx of women from the East might soon become a big problem for the public service infrastructure since it was not prepared for immigration amounting to 500.000 in three years.

Source: CCMC PUSH Journal  28/03/2007  




OPPOSITION: IV World Congress of Families, 11 – 13 May 2007, Warsaw, Poland. This is one of the most spectacular events of the opponents of sexual and reproductive health and rights. The World Family Congress (WCF) brings together many ultra-right wing, anti-choice organizations located in and outside United States. Although the event might seem benign “it is a strategic camouflage for a familiar set of favorite ultraconservative causes: an intolerant version of heterosexuality and marriage that precludes recognition of gay unions, is anti-abortion, anti-contraception and anti-sex education”, as expert in the field - Gillian Kane from International Women’s Health Coalition - stated. This is the fourth edition of the WCF and not accidentally will it take place in Poland  - ruled by conservative, so called pro-family oriented political forces. Previous congresses took place in Prague, Geneva and Mexico and gathered a big audience, but the upcoming one is going to outnumber all previous editions. Moreover, Polish President, Lech Kaczynski agreed to be Honorary Patron of the Congress and by these means the head of the state presents his position as conflicting with sexual and reproductive rights. TEllen Sauerbrey, the Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees and Migration in the Bush’s administration also received an invitation to this event. MEPs urged her to withdraw from this conservative meeting.     



EU: Informal Council Meeting of Health Ministers 19 April 2007, Aachen. The ministers gathered to discuss the crossborder healthcare services and strategize on the possible steps that have to be undertaken in the nearest future to improve those services. Ulla Schimdt, the German Federal minister of Health declared also that it will be highly desirable to further cooperate in terms of HIV/AIDS prevention since the virus does not stop at borders. This seems to be a continuation of the recognition made at the Bremen Conference.     

Press release is available at: http://www.eu2007.de/en/News/Press_Releases/April/0419BMGMinistertreffen.html



EU: Evolution and Religious Fundamentalism in European Schools. On 17th of April 2007, a seminar under this title took place in the European Parliament. It was organized by Swedish MEP Maria Carlshamre and the Swedish Humanist Association. The problem of religious fundamentalism presented by some MEPs who continually intend to incorporate Christian values into European policy has been discussed from various angles. The seminar was honoured by the presence of professor Richard Dawkins, author of a bestseller “Selfish Gene”. Dawkins gave a severe critique of creationism and postulated that this way of thinking must be labeled ideology, not a scientific theory.

Moreover, at the seminar Wanda Nowicka from the Polish Federation for Women and Family Planning gave a speech about sexual and reproductive health and rights of women in Poland and how they are endangered by Christian fundamentalism. “After it failed to change the Polish Constitution, the ultra-right wing ruling coalition is going to undertake further actions to restrict sexual and reproductive rights of women in Poland, including a total ban on abortion” – Nowicka concluded.                      


USA: Wastefulness of the Abstinence Until Marriage Education. The Bush Administration continues its program targeted at teenagers of abstinence-until-marriage education, although it received a severe critique of progressive circles and sexual and reproductive health advocates and proved its inefficiency numerous times. On the contrary, there were some declarations from the administration that the abstinence–only messages should be reinforced. At the moment the federal government already spends approximately USD 176 million per year and does not seem to the change policy towards sexuality education that does not yield any results as most recent study of Mathematica Policy Research Inc. It turns out clearly that students who took part in the full of governmental programme were equally likely to have sexual intercourse than those students who did not attend abstinence-until-marriage education. Moreover, both groups that took part in the study did not differ significantly in terms of numbers of sexual partners.     

Source: KEVIN FREKING, Associated Press Writer Sat Apr 14

The study is available at: 




Mexico City legalizes abortion. This is a great success of pro-choice advocates, especially if we take into account that Mexico City is the second largest Roman Catholic community in the world – 90% of its population declares to be religious. At the legislative assembly, there were 46 votes in favour of legal abortion up to 12 weeks of pregnancy in comparison with 19 legislators who were against the introduction of the new right for women to make decision about their own bodies. Now the act has to be only signed up by the leftist mayor of the city. Decriminalization of abortion should be perceived in the context of general liberalization of laws in Mexico City. Recently, the legislative assembly adopted a right to same-sex civil unions. The next issue that will be put for social debate is most probably legalization of euthanasia.       

You can read more about this issue at BBC News: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/6586959.stm  


European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) gives a decision in the frozen embryo case. The Grand Chamber from Strasbourg remained congruent with the British courts’ verdict that embryos cannot be used to in vitro fertilization without a partner’s consent. ECHR considered Natallie Evans’s complaint, a British women who was denied the use of frozen embryos to become pregnant because her ex-partner withdrew permission after they split up. The woman claims that she has the right to use the embryos, especially since it is the only way for her to have her own children since she underwent cancer of the uterus treatment which left her infertile. The woman also referred to an argument, that the law is discriminatory against infertile women. If she was able to get pregnant in a natural way she would now have a baby and no one would dare to question it after her relationship with the baby’s father was over. Analogically, if she was pregnant the moment the relationship ended, the future father would not have the right to make her terminate the pregnancy.

After the Grand Chamber verdict that there was no violation of the Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, the embryos will be destroyed within the next month.

Source: Kaiser 12/04/2007        









18th International Conference on the Reduction of Harm Related Drugs, 13-17 May 2007, Warsaw, Poland. All information is available at:  www.harmreduction2007.org   


REMINDER: Global Safe Abortion Conference 2007 23-24 October 2007, London, UK. Early registration deadline is 31st  of May 2007. Organized by Marie Stopes International in cooperation with Ipas and Abortion Rights, the conference is completely focused on abortion: its accessibility, legal status, advocacy and funding.

All detailed information can be accessed at: http://www.globalsafeabortion.org/index.html     


WIDE's Annual Conference 2007 ‘New aid, old trade: What do women have to say?’, Madrid, Spain, 14 – 17 June 2007. The aim of this year’s conference is to create a forum for constructive analysis of women’s rights today and perspectives for gender equality in the new global development and trade architecture. The problem of lacks in expected advancement of women that should follow the constant and persisting development will be raised. The WIDE conference is intended to be a space for women from the East, North and South to analyse critically European and international aid and trade policies, in order to name the challenges, to identify the opportunities and to agree on a common agenda to ensure that this new aid, trade and foreign policy architecture reinforces and supports commitments on women’s human rights and gender equality.
Details about conference are available at:








Call for facilitators: Youth Coalition is awaiting submission to facilitate a one-day session on facilitation skills at the organization’s Annual Meeting that is about to take place in Morocco, Casablanca on 5th of August 2007. The entire submission package must be received by the Youth Coalition no later than May 7th, by 12:00 P.M. New York time.







A Health Handbook for Women with Disabilities. This book provides basic information to help women with disabilities stay healthy. The publications covers the topics of mental health, understanding and taking care of your body, sexuality, family planning, pregnancy and many many others.

The entire book is now available for download from Hesperian’s website that issued this publication:


Millennium Development Goals (MDGs): Global Monitoring Report 2007. This publication elaborates on the progress made in achieving MDGs in the field of gender equality. According to this review, those states that have weak institutions and governance fail to keep up and the process of development is far too slow there. It is also postulated that scaling up “quality” aid requires greater consistency among donors, developing countries and international agencies. 


The report can be downloaded for free at: http://web.worldbank.org/WBSITE/EXTERNAL/EXTDEC/EXTGLOBALMONITOR/EXTGLOMONREP2007/0,,contentMDK:21256862~menuPK:3413296

It is available in English, French and Spanish.  


Women and Girls living with HIV/AIDS. This publication is a joint initiative of BRIDGE and International Community of Women Living with HIV/AIDS. It presents an elaborative overview of the problems and challenges that HIV-positive women and girls are facing, including stigma and double discrimination, maternity and sexual life. Moreover, this report provides information on annotated bibliography, which might especially helpful for those who wish to go more in depth into particular issues.


The publication is available at: http://www.bridge.ids.ac.uk/reports/BB18_HIV.pdf              







New SIECUS (The Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States)  resource on Sex Education. This is a comprehensive online resource on sexuality education for educators, counselors, administrators, health professionals and others interested in the topic, that has been developed by SIECUS, a leading organization on that matters. It provides relevant tools to teach children and young people about the subject, as well as the most up to date and medically accurate information and knowledge regarding sexuality. 

We encourage you to visit it at: http://www.sexedlibrary.org/ 


New feminist website http://www.heresiesfilmproject.org This website contains an archive of all issues of legendary Feminist Journal on Art and Politics that existed in years 1977 – 1992. The website also includes a full proposal for the project - which can be printed - as well as biographies of most of the women who founded the magazine, stills from the 70's and behind-the-scenes photos of our shoots on location in Santa Fe, New York, Venice, Italy and Carboneras, Spain. Watch for the trailer of the feature documentary, showing on the website soon!  


World Health Organization (WHO) launches a new webpage on Female Genital Mutilation. A new resource developed by the Department of Reproductive Health and Research offers consolidated information on research and activities addressing FGM.

You can check it up at: http://www.who.int/reproductive-health/fgm/index.html