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CEE Bulletin on Sexual and Reproductive Rights

No 2 (58) 2008

table of contents:

burning issue

Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights in the European Parliament, Brussels, January 29. The Public Hearing on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights organized by the Committee on Women's Rights and Gender Equality of the European Parliament was chaired by conservative MEP from Slovakia Anna Zaborska. The Hearing was proposed by the Polish MEP from Socialist Group of the EP-Lidia Geringer d'Oedenberg. Among five panelists, Wanda Nowicka from ASTRA spoke on Recent Trends regarding Sexual and Reproductive Rights in Central and Eastern Europe with Special Focus on Poland. She identified a number of negative developments which soon might lead to diminishing access to sexual and reproductive rights. Douglas A. Sylva from Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute in his presentation on SRHR presented critical and unsubstantiated view regarding international standards on SRHR. The representative of the European Commission (EC) in his statement from the floor confirmed all the commitments of the EC to internationally accepted SRHR, including the Cairo Programme of Action and its follow-up documents. The discussion following the panel was dominated by the voices of MEPs from new members states, particularly from Poland and Slovakia, many of which presented conservative views and anti-choice position. However, many MEPs that support SRHR were also present and made strong arguments, based on women and adolescent realities, supporting SRHR The Hearing gathered a huge audience some of which were sitting on the floor and proved that the issue is very relevant for Europe and its institutions. The Hearing was followed by the presentation of the documentary produced by ASTRA 'Breaking the Silence' SRHR in CEE.

By Malgorzata Dziewanowska

regional updates

POLAND: Process of the Polish female gynecologist for providing illegal abortions. Malgorzata F., a Polish gynecologist with years of experience, will be tried by the court, because the prosecutor's office has accused her of performing at least 26 illegal abortions in the past few years. One of her patients decided to notify police about the fact that she underwent a termination of pregnancy in the accused's private office. The police acted immediately. The clinic has been searched and previous patients interrogated. 26 women admitted to having had an abortion performed by Malgorzata F. It turned out that all of these women live in a very poor conditions on the edge of poverty. The accused gynecologist provided services for for a relatively low price (in comparison with mean prices of illegal abortions). The woman pleads guilty and claims that her primary motivation was to help women who were in a very difficult situation. Each abortion was preceded by a long interview and it was not performed immediately. Malgorzata F. preferred to give the women time so they could think it over and make the right decision-one that they would not eventually regret. The prosecutors have also pressed charges against the nurse who helped Malgorzata F. and two men who paid for abortions (assisting in or forcing someone to perform abortion is criminalized in Poland). All of the defendants have offered to subject themselves voluntarily to punishment. The gynecologist proposed for herself a suspended sentence of two years in jail, suspended for four years and a fine of EUR 4,000.

Source: Gazeta Wyborcza Daily; 10/01/2008

POLAND: New initiative to further restrict abortion ends up with back out. The Polish Ombudsman Janusz Kochanowski has considered filing a complaint to the Polish Constitutional Tribunal against the article of the anti-abortion law allowing for abortion on therapeutic grounds. He believes this article is not constitutional due to its lack of precision. His intention is to limit access to abortion if health problems are not serious enough. This initiative was being considered on the eve of the 15th anniversary of the introduction of present restrictive anti-abortion law which was passed by the Polish Parliament on January 7th 1993. His attempt to limit access to legal abortion was grounded in the recent decision of the European Court for Human Rights in the case of Alicja Tysiac according to which denial of access to legal abortion on medical grounds was a breech of her right to privacy under the European Convention of Human Rights. The recent report of the Polish Federation for Women and Family Planning confirms that the anti-abortion law which de jure allows for abortions on medical, criminal and genetic grounds, in practice is much more restrictive. Abortions are hardly accessible due to highly restrictive interpretation of the law. The Federation is calling for the liberalization of the one of the most restrictive legislations in Europe. The Ombudsman, Janusz Kochanowski, has finally officially resigned from this highly controversial initiative as he had been persuaded during the meeting with experts, including Krystyna Kacpura from the Federation.

By Wanda Nowicka

Source: Polish Federation for Women and Family Planning

UNITED KINGDOM: About 20,000 girls are at risk of female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) before their 15th birthday. New research conducted by London-based FORWARD (The Foundation for Women's Health, Research and Development) and commissioned by United Kingdom Department of Health reveals an alarming number of girls being at risk of FGM/C. According to FORWARD, which works to promote action to bring about positive social change to enhance the well-being and protect the dignity of African girls and women globally (including eradication of harmful cultural practices such as FGM/C and child marriages) the number exceeds 21,000. According to the World Health Organization, about 100-140 million girls have undergone FGM/C worldwide. They mostly live in African countries, but apparently these practices are also performed in migrant communities in Europe on a scale which we had not expected before. This shocking number of girls at risk make us realize that a scaled up response to eradicate cultural harmful practices is needed now.

For more information go to:forwarduk

MOSCOW: The group of activists from the Orthodox Christian wing of the Kremlin-backed youth group Nashi (Ours) opposed on Monday to abortion by planting abort 200 crosses in the snow at a Moscow square. In the central Pushkin Square they created the mock cemetery and put a huge poster that showed a child's doll with eyes closed and the sentence: 'One of the 10 commandments given to humanity by God: Thou shalt not kill' This even is, like many others, related to 'year of the family' Russia. Boris Yakemenko, one of the organizers, admits that they want to awake fear among the people that nothing justifies abortion. He added that in Moscow 28,000 abortion had been carried out in 2006.

To read more:Moscow News


Landmark decision of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg on the right to adoption of same-sex couples. On 22nd of January 2008, the Grand Chamber of the ECHR delivered a verdict in the E.B. vs France case. Ms E.B. is a lesbian kindergarten teacher. She is in an intimate relationship with another woman and they have been living together for 18 years. In 1998, E.B. qualified for adoption but her application was rejected obviously due to the woman's sexual orientation. In 2002, the final appeal was rejected by the supreme court and E.B. in this way had exercised all the available legal remedies in France. That is when the decision to apply to the ECHR was made and finally the verdict is in favour of Ms E.B. The ECHR ruled that a woman must get compensation amounting EURO 24 500. The ECHR decided that France has violated the European Convention on Human Rights by excluding the possibility of adoption to the lesbian couple. This decision is absolutely crucial as it indicates that human rights are universal and discriminative practices (and laws) are banned in all spheres of life. It also questions all laws that ban adoption for same-sex couples in a number of countries in Europe (especially CEE region and the Balkans) and all over the world. It also encourages LGBTQI community to execute their rights and seek justice in Strasbourg. We can and hope to expect more this king of cases in the future.

Source: Campaign against homophobia

EU: European Parliament announces new strategy to protect rights of the child. At its most recent session, on 15th of January 2008, the European Parliament adopted a strategy aimed at protection of child's rights, including some language on sexual rights, with the vast majority. 630 members of the Parliament (MEPs), voting in favor of the proposal, 62 abstaining and 26 MEPs opposing the strategy. The new EU approach focuses around combating sexual violence against children. The debate around this issues started in summer 2006 with the European Commission communication entitled 'Towards an EU strategy on the rights of the child' In response to that paper, the Parliament took an initiative and a special report has been prepared by Roberta Angelilli from the Civil Liberties Committee. The outcome document prioritizes combating paedophilia on the internet and scales up the response to eradicate child sex tourism. Particularly, the Parliament calls for the special budget line for the promotion and protection of the rights of the child and in terms of combating child pornography on the internet, it urges to implement technical measures to combat the dissemination of paedophile content. Furthermore, the European Parliament proposes the establishment of an early warning system on child abductions and supports the Commission's initiative to set up a telephone help-line for children in the European Union. The EU strategy includes also some language on child labour and recognizes a possibility to prosecute suppliers that employ minors in Europe as an urgent need. During the debate, there was a discussion about including a paragraph banning the wearing of hijab and headscarves in schools, but it has been deleted from the outcome document.

To read more about this issue go to:Europarl

LIVING 2008: The Positive Leadership Summit for people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) as a follow up to the landmark global consultation. On December 5 -7, 2008 a milestone event took place in Amsterdam, the Netherlands - Global Consultation led by people living with HIV/AIDS. Global consultation on sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) brought together 65 people from HIV/AIDS communities: women and men, young people and transgender representatives. Peter Piot, executive director of UNAIDS favoured the meeting with his presence. He highlighted the need to include SRHR issues in development policy. The problem of the HIV/AIDS pandemic is very often discussed with no relation to sexual and reproductive rights. It is claimed that a reliable HIV response must prioritize SRHR, which is inclusive of fostering a satisfying sexual life by meeting SRH needs that protect sexual health as well as allow people living with HIV to plan their families and/or prevent unwanted pregnancies. The Global Consultation was organized by the Global Network of People Living with HIV (GNP+), the International Community of Women Living with HIV (ICW) and YoungPositives with support from EngenderHealth, IPPF, UNAIDS, UNFPA and WHO, will be followed by LIVING 2008: The Positive Leadership Summit for people living with HIV, on 31 July and 1 August in Mexico City.

More information is available at:Gnpplus

USA: The lowest rate of abortion since 30 years. On 17th of January, the Guttmacher Institute issued new data based on comprehensive research carried out by the organization among abortion providers. The Census of 2005 indicated that the abortion rate in the United States dropped to 19,4 per 1000 women aged 15-44. The most recent data shows the continuation of this decreasing trend. The number of abortions has been the lowest since the year 1974. The number of abortions in total has also declined. According to the Guttmacher Institute it amounted in 2005 to 1,2 million. However, it stills means that every fifth pregnancy is terminated and thus demonstrates that the problem of unintended pregnancies is still significant. The research also indicates that early medical abortion services are more and more frequently perfomed. More than a half of legal terminations are medical abortions.

To read more go to:Guttmacher

Reproductive rights on the agenda

Pep up PEPFAR! Support for the online petition needed now. There is an urgent need to reform and reauthorize PEPFAR (Presidency Emergency Plan to Fight AIDS Relief) as it leaves much to be desired including the US government funding of the abstinence based only HIV prevention programs. The online petition endorsed by the SRHR community urges the U.S. Members of Congress to introduce substantial policy changes within the PEPFAR. It calls inter alia to provide funding for clean needle exchange programs and to contribute to the U.S. fair share to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (GFATM). The petition is available at:Petition

Call for applications: Domestic Violence Fellowship at the University at Buffalo, Fall 2008. This is an opportunity for a young practicing lawyer from Central Eastern Europe, the CIS, the Balkans, the Caucasus or the Central Asian Republics with a deep interest in domestic violence (primarily against women and children) legal issues. The best candidate should have experience of cooperating with non-governmental organizations and be committed to continue working in the family violence field in her country after completing the fellowship. The deadline for submissions is March, 20, 2008. For more information contact: Isabel Marcus

Call for applications: PhD position in Germany-Complex social inequalities (gender, migration, class) and social change. Post-graduated student interested in research degree are invited to apply for Ruhr University Research School to explore: Complex social inequalities (gender, migration, class) and social change: the role of social movements or organizations. Proposed approach is intersectional. There are two contexts of the research available to choose: 1. In which ways did women's movements contribute to social change in the national and/or global context? The regional focus is preferably on Germany, Europe or East Asia; and 2. Organisations are increasingly based on diversity according to gender, migration and class. The incorporation of different groups and persons along gender and migration shall be investigated in either media organisations or third sector (voluntary or welfare) organisations. The regional focus is preferably on Germany, Europe or Japan.

Detailed information is available at:Research School

Call for applications: Postdoctoral research fellowships in queer spiritualities, Sussex Center for Cultural Studies. Candidates from disciplines including Cultural Studies, Religious Studies, Sociology and Cultural Geography are encouraged to apply. The programme of fellowships is a part of the AHRC/ESRC funded project 'Queer Spiritual Spaces, Society and Religion Small Grants Scheme 2007'. The expected start date is scheduled to be April 2008 and the fellowship will last till the end of August. The successful applicant will hold, or will have submitted, a doctoral thesis in relevant fields eg. Religious Studies, Cultural Geography, cultural Studies or Sociology. Knowledge of LGBTI cultures would be an advantage. The post-holders will research 2 specific case studies of religious groups, and be able to write up a 20,000 word report at the completion of their contract. Knowledge of queer spiritualities is desirable but not essential. The deadline for application is February, 8, 2008.

Detailed information is available at:Sussex

upcoming events

Sexual and reproductive health and rights of young people: The need for comprehensive sexuality education in the global South-Public Hearing in the European Parliament, Brussels, Belgium, February, 12, 2008, 15:00-17:30. The hearing is jointly organized by YouAct (European Youth Network on Sexual and Reproductive Rights), World Population Foundation (WPF), EuroNGOs and with financial contribution of RFSU. It will be hosted by Ms Lissy Groener from the Socialist Party of the European Parliament. The hearing itself will focus on the unmet sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) needs of young people in the global South and which will provide: first-hand information on the SRHR situation of young people in the global South, an overview of the benefits of comprehensive Sexuality Education for Young People in the Global South, a platform for discussing the possibilities and challenges to invest in young people's sexual and reproductive health and to include comprehensive sexuality education in EU development policies and programming. Presenters and discussants will include, among others, representatives of Youth Advocacy Network, Pakistan; Students Partnership Worldwide, Zambia; UNFPA, New York; YouAct Turkey; WPF, the Netherlands; UNFPA, New York; Y-Safe project, IPPF EN, and the European Commission. The registration is open till February, 1, 2008. For more information and registration form please contact Ruta Dukstaite or Marije Nederveen, tel: 0031-(0)30 2393862, e-mail

Symposium on Queer in Europe, 13-15 September, University of Exeter, UK. Organizers of this 3-day international research symposium have announced a call for papers. The aim of this conference, organized in conjunction with a network bid and a consciousness raising book project, is to address these issues by bringing together scholars and activists from a wide variety of backgrounds to discuss the following broad questions: How are paradigms of same sex love and other dissident sexualities experienced in different national cultures, discourses and political arenas?; How is the body of work known as Queer Theory disseminated and received in Europe, and how do the paradigms identified in affect this?; How do those factors affect the production and reception of cultural artefacts (literature, film and television, drama and cabaret, the visual arts, popular music etc.)?; How do the factors impinge on and help to set the agenda for future scholarship and activism in this field? Expressions of interest from as wide a spectrum of potential participants as possible, including artists and practitioners, as well as theorists and activists are welcomed. It is envisaged that, alongside traditional academic papers, there will be workshops and breakout groups, sessions run by activists and artists, poster sessions and performances, a round table discussion and a publication workshop. Paper titles and short proposals (no more than 200 words) should be submitted to either Lisa Downing or Robert Gillett by May 31 2008.


Exploring Dimensions of Masculinity and Violence. Released by CARE International and the International Center for Research on Women, a report explores social constructions of masculinity and how those constructions lead to attitudes and behaviors toward women. It is based on data gathered through the Western Balkan Gender-Based Violence Prevention Initiative. For the report, the two groups spoke with and collected information through activities with young men between the ages of 13 and 19 from Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, and Montenegro. The youth identified physical characteristics like strength, personality traits like stubbornness and bravery; they identified these qualities being attributed to a need to protect the women in their lives. Many of the young men believe that violence is a major part of their lives; sexual violence, especially against women, is an area enveloped in silence and shame. An attitude did exist that some women might have provoked the sexual violence against them. Almost all of the young men did not agree with using violence against women. At the same time, they did not consider slapping or hitting as a last resort or as falling within the category of violence against women. Many of the young men did not view the court system and police bringing justice to victims.

The full version of the report is available at:Report

Bulletin of the World Health Organization (BLT), Volume 86, Number 1, January 2008. This issue marks the 60th anniversary of the World Health Organization. There, you can find a special article that looks at the origins of the BLT. It launches the whole series of the history of this journal. As far as CEE region is concerned, there is an article about the need for increasing tuberculosis case detection based on the experience of Moldova. We also recommend article on эonitoring effectiveness of programmes to prevent mother-to-child HIV transmission in lower-income countriesҠby Elizabeth M Springer that is to be fund in the Policy and Practice section.

To read more go to:Bulletin

Abortion worldwide: Twelve years of reform-Briefing Paper of Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR). This factsheet provides a comprehensive overview of the national abortion law changes since 1995. It lists all the countries in which abortion law has been liberalized and decriminalized as well as those countries in which we observe dangerous backlash in this regard-were there have been changes in law that restricted access to legal and safe abortion.

It is available online at:Abortion Laws


The Pleasure Project is an educational organization that promotes safer sex that feels good. While most safer sex and HIV prevention programmes are negative and disease-focused, The Pleasure Project is different: it takes (as we read on the website) a positive, liberating and sexy approach to safer sex. We encourage you to visit the website at: The pleasure project

Misprostal in Obstetrics and Gynaecology. The website is run by respected experts in the field and provides reliable information on misoprostal. The major aim of the site is to promote good practice in the use of misoprostol in obstetrics and gynaecology, and prevent disasters that could occur if the wrong doses are used. Visit the website at: Misoprostol