CEE Bulletin on Sexual and Reproductive Rights 

No 10 (54) 2007


table of contents:







UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) integrates Gender Perspective and Women’s Rights into the Programme of Work. During its 6th session, the UNHRC has declared the need to integrate gender perspective and women’s rights, a move which a wide variety of civil society organizations had been jointly pushing for. The UNHRC had the mandate to act this way as the UN General Assembly has called on the Council to undertake actions to implement gender mainstreaming into its work. Furthermore, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) stated that integrating gender perspective is of high priority. There is also a need for greater recognition of women’s rights, including sexual and reproductive rights. Integration of gender perspective is believed to be very promising since until today, women’s rights were missing from the world human rights agenda. There was no relevant room to address them within the framework of human rights. - “Only by examining the specificity of gender can a more accurate picture of rights conditions in a particular country or regarding a particular theme be understood, and only through attention to differences in how women and men experience human rights abuses can effective remedies to redress such violations be shaped” – claimed Charlotte Bunch, the Executive Director of Center for Women’s Global Leadership at the UNHRC Interactive Panel.

The Council discussed how gender issues should be reflected in the reporting at the Universal Periodic Review process. Member States of the United Nations have to report every four years with no possibility of avoidance. The Council worked also on its agenda and appointed countries that will have to report next year in accordance with new procedures – Bahrain, Ecuador and Tunisia will be among 16 countries reporting in February 2008. Others are as follows: Algeria, Argentina, Brazil, Britain, the Czech Republic, Finland, India, Indonesia, Morocco, the Netherlands, the Philippines, Poland and South Africa. The selection is said to be random. The Council’s objective is to review all 192 UN member states by the end of the year 2011.       

Source: WUNRN, 21/09/2007

Link to the official press release: http://www.unhchr.ch/huricane/huricane.nsf/view01/915867A627CE9C5BC125735C00771909?opendocument




BULGARIA: High rates of abortions. It is estimated that annually there are over 40.000 abortions performed in Bulgaria – a country with a population of about 7.5 million. In comparison, in neighbouring Romania, which is nearly three times larger than Bulgaria, fewer than 18 000 abortions were performed last year. The increased number of terminations of pregnancies in the country might be ascribed to the low rates of modern contraceptives use. Bulgarian Society of Obstetrics and Gynecology estimates that only one fifth of women use any method of family planning.
Source: Sofia Echo 26/09/2007        

HUNGARY: The country’s population is shrinking faster than ever. Hungarian Central Statistical Office (KSH) informed that country’s population has dropped between January and June 2007 in comparison with the same period a year earlier. At the moment the population amounts to 10,055,000. The first half of the year resulted in 46,718 live births and 67,138 deaths. It is highlighted that the rate of live births has dropped by 3.1 percent (1500). Simultaneously, there is also a decline in the number of marriages, reaching even 7 percent in comparison with previous years.

Source: Hungarian News Agency 27/08/2007.


POLAND: Strasbourg rejected Polish government’s appeal regarding the case of Alicja Tysiac. On 24 September the European Court for Human Rights adopted the final decision regarding the case of Alicja Tysiac v Poland. The Court rejected the appeal of the Polish Government and by doing so sustained its own decision of March 20th according to which Alicja Tysiac's right to privacy has been violated in Poland. The Court admitted that the State failed to secure her right to legal abortion to which she was entitled under present anti-abortion law. 

"I'd like to express our great satisfaction that Alicja Tysiac finally won. Although we not only hoped but also expected such a decision, because for us it was clear that her right has been violated, taking into account great arrogance of the Polish Government and inability to admit the failure on their part as well as numerous personal attacks on Alicja, we were looking forward to the final decision. I hope that now the Polish Government accepts the decision of the ECHR and without further delay will start implementing the Court's decision" - said Wanda Nowicka the President of the Polish Federation for Women and Family Planning.

Alicja Tysiac is very happy for the decision and would like to thank all the organizations which helped her with her case.

More info about the case can be found in the press release of the ECHR of March 20th.




POLAND: The President frustrates Europe by supporting the restoration of the death penalty. Poland as the only member state of the European Union presented a veto against the European Commission’s initiative to establish the European Day Against Death Penalty and to issue a joint resolution condemning capital punishment. The European Commission’s proposal is strongly supported by the Council of Europe, where decisions are made by a simple majority, so thr Polish voice on the issue can be easily disregarded. It is more problematic for the European Union which needs unanimity in that case. The European Parliament has called upon the Polish government, which will be elected in October 2007, to rethink the country’s position on capital punishment. It has also reminded that the European Day Against Death Penalty reflects fundamental values of the Union. It also needs to be highlighted that Poland is among five other EU members states that did not ratify Protocol XIII to the European Convention on Human Rights.   


ROMANIA: United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Soros Foundations researches reflect upshots of Ceausescu’s Decree 770. Christian Mungiu’s movie “4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days,”  which was recently recognized at the Cannes Fim Festival, depicts the drama of young woman seeking clandestine abortion during communism under the dictatorship of Nicolae Ceausescu. The movie revived bad reminiscences and experiences of Romanian women. It also drew the attention of experts who still attempt to evaluate the bleak past. Ceausescu introduced ba an on abortion – notorious decree 770 – and effectively discouraged Romanians from using contraceptives by negative propaganda and limiting access to family planning. Communists taught Romanians that contraceptives are unreliable, harmful for health and are used only by perverted individuals. There is evidence that these teachings are still alive, especially among middle-aged Romanians who remmber communist times. For example, the misconception that abortion is the only reliable method of family planning is lingering. The abortion rates are especially high. According to UNDP and Soros Foundation studies, half of Romanian women have undergone at least one termination of pregnancy. Furthermore, as many as 15 percent have had five abortions. Most of the women who had abortions are over 35 years old. Nevertheless, the young generation’s sexual behaviour patterns also leave a lot to be desired.  UNDP found out that Romanian youths are less likely to trust contraceptives than their foreign counterparts. It turns out that 30 percent of young people aged 18 – 24 did not use any method of family planning. The urgent need for reliable, scientifically based and comprehensive sexuality education is more than obvious. Soros Foundation’s study indicates that 20 percent of Romanian population is not able to name any birth-control method. Three quarters of those respondents who had no idea about contraception were over 45 years old.               

Source: Irish Times 28/09/2007 


SLOVAKIA: Notorious anti-choice campaign. Organized by two non-governmental religious fundamentalist organizations – Bio-ethic Reform and Pastor Bonus – the campaign called “Right to Life” consists mainly of billboards that flooded Slovakian public transport. About 500 billboards and 100 posters depict mutilated eleven-week-old fetuses in the palm of an adult. These shocking images that are meant to equalize termination of pregnancy with genocide – as the organizers claim – raised strong protest among the society and the Slovakian Council of Advertising (RPR). It is believed that the campaign was funded by some rich Slovakian businessman who prefers to remain anonymous. The organizers stated that the primary objective of the campaign was to provoke debate on existing Act on Abortion in Slovakia, which as they believe should be amended, in other words restricted. This anti-choice movement has been reprimanded by the RPR that found the billboards unethical, especially because those dreadful images are visible to minors. Furthermore, they must be very painful for women who have experienced miscarriages. RPR concluded that it did not want to interfere with freedom of speech but these particular posters are beyond any shadow of a doubt inappropriate and unacceptable. Furthermore, civil society representatives have filed lawsuit against the campaign organizers highlighting that they had violated the Act on Family and the Civic Code. Nevertheless, it seems that the Right to Life campaign stays in accordance with the Christian Democratic Movement (KDH) political party initiative that suggest that existing abortion law goes against the Constitution. The Constitutional Court is to rule on it by the end of December 2007. The current law allows abortion on wish until the 12th week of pregnancy. The termination is also eligible with no time restrictions if the woman’s life is in danger. According to official data, there were 14,243 pregnancies terminated in 2006.              

Source: The Slovak Spectator 23/09/2007 


RUSSIAN FEDERATION: HIV/AIDS Center in Grozny launched. This can be perceived as a milestone since conservative culture of Chechnya does not allow the society to discuss the HIV/AIDS pandemic, as well as drug addiction, which is an especially burning problem in the republic. Moreover, people living with the disease suffer from stigma but finally, the first HIV/AIDS center has been established to serve them. The republic’s official ultimately responded to the growing HIV/AIDS pandemic. In Chechnya, there are almost 720 HIV-positive individuals as official data indicates. Of course the actual scope of the epidemic remains unknown. Although the Center is designed to primarily serve people living with HIV/AIDS it will deal with prevention and voluntary testing as well. The official ceremony of the inauguration took place on 1st of August.

Sources: Reuters 01/08/2007; Kaiser 03/08/2007 





26th of September – Celebration of the first World Contraception Day! The overall aim of establishing World Contraception Day is to curb high teenage pregnancy rates and educate young people about safer sexual behaviors. There is strong evidence that youth lack reliable knowledge on sexuality and especially contraception and engage in risky behaviours. There are many misconceptions and myths linked to sexuality, such as that first sexual encounter cannot result with pregnancy, that need to be fought if we want to realize the urgent need for healthy, respectable and safer sexuality. The first World Contraception Day launched the educational campaign targeted at young women and men aged 17-24 under the patronage of US actress – Mischa Barton. It also revealed alarming data about European youth. Research indicates that one fifth of young people do not use any means of protection when having sex and more than a quarter did not use any method of family planning during the first intercourse. The leading role in the campaign plays Irish Family Planning Association (IFPA). Its representatives brought to light at press conference that estimated number of 136,000 Irish women have at least one in their lives experienced crisis pregnancy. Another initiative of the IFCA at the first World Contraception Day was a kind of experiment about being a teenage mother. Minor women agreed to take care of a virtual baby which behaved like a real one. IFCA believes that this kind of simulation raises awareness of what motherhood means and should be administered to college students. Rosie Toner from IFCA highlighted that teenage pregnancy might be a positive experience but we need to ensure that girls and boys are able to make informed choices.

Source: CCMC PUSH Journal 26/09/2007        


The European Commission approves antiretroviral Pfizer’s drug Maraviroc and the GSK's Experimental HPV Vaccine Cervarix. It is believed that Maraviroc, which is a new class CCR5 inhibitor will offer a new option for many people living with HIV/AIDS in the European Union who remain resistant to currently available treatments. CCR5 is a protein on human immune system cells that HIV uses as a portal to enter and infect the cell. The new drug is believed to simply block it. Maraviroc has been already approved and used in the United States, but it is claimed that we still need more research on the possible side effects of the drug. As by now, the following effects have been reported as experienced by patients: increased risk of heart attack, diarrhea, nausea, fatigue and headache. Nevertheless, studies confirmed that HIV-positive individuals who took maraviroc in combination with a traditional treatment regimen achieved undetectable levels of HIV nearly three times more in comparison with exceptional application of traditional regimen. The producer also claims that side affects that might be linked to maraviroc are not worse or different than those linked to currently available drugs. Pfizer suggests that the new drug should be administered to people with advanced HIV or AIDS who have not responded to other medications.

At the same time, the European Commission approved Cervarix for sale and marketing. It is  drug which proved to be 100 percent effective in prevention of human papillomavirus (HPV) infection, which accounts for 70% of all cases of cervical cancer. Nevertheless, it has to be kept in mind that the vaccine should be administered to girls before their first sexual intercourse. Some experts also claim that it can have negative side effects.   

Source: Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report; 25/09/2007 


United Nations: 61st session of the UN General Assembly (GA) with no gender reform. Long-awaited by the world women’s movement the United Nations reform, called UN Gender Equality Architecture, has not been adopted but postponed for the next GA session. The President of the GA has even presented the draft procedural resolution on Gender Architecture but unfortunately the process of adoption hasn’t been finalized at this session. Why this has happened to the disappointment of the reform advocates? It seems that the reform has not been abandoned but requires more experts opinions regarding the various aspects and consequences of the proposed change. It has been also highlighted that the United Nations has to take into account Member States voices and perspectives on this issue. However, it has been declared that the debate on the reform will be continued at the next upcoming GA session.   

More information about UN Gender Equality Architecture reform is available at: at www.wedo.org  







Conference on Gender Studies in Baltic States Region, Kaunus, Lithuania, 29 – 20 November 2007. Organized by Vilnius University, Department of Philosophy and Cultural Studies, the conference strives to create a platform for the analysis and discussion on gender issues identifying common tendencies and peculiarities in gender research in the Baltic Sea region, as well as in Europe. The event’s goals are to analyze and summarize the quantity and quality of gender studies and gender research in the Baltic region, also to identify common European tendencies in gender research and the regional peculiarity. The Lithuanian Women’s Movement is celebrating the 100th anniversary of the 1st Women Congress. This event will give the opportunity to evaluate and analyse gender problems in the region of the Baltic Sea. Some time will be also devoted to discussing the role of NGOS in empowering women and achieving gender equality.    

Source: http://www.neww.org.pl/en.php/news/news/1.html?&nw=3767&re=1





United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on Children review  is to be held on December 11 -12, 2007 in UN headquarters in New Yourk, US. This plenary meeting is devoted to follow up on the outcome document “A World Fit for Children” that has been agreed to at the Special Session on Children in 2005. The year 2007 marks the deadline for targets indicated in the above-mentioned Declaration and Plan of Action. This year’s UNGASS objective is also to evaluate targets that have to be achieved by 2010 and 2015. Furthermore, the session will include roundtables and panel debates. The President of the General Assembly will lead the process on an outcome document to be adopted at the meeting. SRHR advocates are jointly strategizing on the advocacy at this high-level meeting. International Women’s Health Coalition (IWHC) set up a working group of civil society representatives for these proposes. Interested activists can contact Suzie Ko at sko@iwhc.org 


New report of the International Harm Reduction Development Program (IHRD) of the Open Society Institute: Women, Harm Reduction and HIV. The report discusses the difficulties female drug users face in accessing harm reduction, drug treatment, and sexual and reproductive health services.  The report offers recommendations for policy and service design to better protect the health and rights of women who use drugs, and focuses on Eastern Europe and Asia, IHRD's areas of work.   It will be followed in 2008 by the release of assessments of women drug users' access to services in Georgia, Russia, and Ukraine

Electronic version of the report is available at: http://www.soros.org/initiatives/health/focus/ihrd/articles_publications/publications/women_20070920 


Black Aids Institute issues report on the state of HIV/AIDS epidemic among African-Americans. The report features statistics and highlights that African Americans are disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS. African Americans represent more than 54 percent of the new HIV/AIDS cases in the United States and young black women are the most vulnerable group. AIDS related health problems are the major cause of death for Black women aged 24-34. the publication also includes information about testing reforms, treatment, prevention and mobilization efforts   

The full version of the report can be download from: http://www.blackaids.org/image_uploads/article_381/.pdf   


Sexual and Reproductive Health for HIV-Positive Women and Adolescent Girls: Manual for Trainers and Programme Managers. Published by EngenderHealth, the manual is available in five languages: English, French, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish. It meets a critical need, addressing the sexual and reproductive health, rights, and needs of HIV-positive women and adolescent girls around the world. The manual provides information and a structure for a four-day training and a two-day planning workshop. These will enable program managers and health workers to provide comprehensive, nonjudgmental, and high-quality sexual and reproductive health (SRH) care and support to HIV-positive women and adolescent girls.

It is available online at: http://www.engenderhealth.org/res/offc/hiv/women/index.html