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CEE Bulletin on Sexual and Reproductive Rights

No 03 (82) 2010

table of contents:

burning issue

Report on Equality Between Women and Men in the European Union 2009. The European Parliament adopted the annual report on progress towards equality between men and women in the European Union. This year’s report was prepared by Belgian Member of European Parliament from the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament (S&D) Marc Tarabella. The report tackles the issues of violence against women, gender stereotypes, paternal leaves. Most importantly it emphasizes that women “must have control over their sexual and reproductive rights, notably through easy access to contraception and abortion” and “invited the Member States and the Commission to implement measures and actions to make men more aware of their responsibilities in relation to sexual and reproductive matters” (Article 38). It is important to note that Tarabella’s report is one of few documents of the European Parliament on equality addressing explicitly right to abortion since Anne van Lancker’s resolution on sexual and reproductive health and rights European Parliament adopted in 2002. The report was adopted by 381 votes to 253, with 31 abstentions. It is a non-legislative document.

For the full resolution, visit: European Parliament

regional updates

Macedonia Broadens Anti-Discrimination Bill.Macedonia was one of the first countries in Europe to ratify Protocol 12 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which prohibits discrimination, including on the grounds of sexual orientation, in “any right set forth by law.” However, Macedonia has not adjusted its domestic law to reflect its international commitments. In October 2009 the European Commission stated in its progress report on Macedonia that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation persists, and that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people have no legal protection against it. Neighboring jurisdictions, including Albania and Serbia, have amended their laws to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation. The Macedonian government’s decision to ignore sexual orientation as a protected category in its draft anti-discrimination law would leave lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender (LGBT) people without vital protection, Human Rights Watch said in a letter to Macedonian authorities. Human Rights Watch called on the government to support a comprehensive and inclusive anti-discrimination bill, including protection on the basis of both sexual orientation and gender identity. The proposed law does not meet European or broader international human rights standards, Human Rights Watch said. The minister of labor and social Policy, Xhelal Bajrami, announced the draft law on January 29, 2010. He acknowledged that it deliberately omitted mention of sexual orientation and gender identity, but said that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people could still ask for protection because the draft law refers to “other grounds” of discrimination.”

Source: Human Rights Watch

Abortions of females on the increase in Azerbaijan.In Azerbaijan, women pregnant with girls are being forced to undergo abortions or even being abandoned by their husbands because their families are determined to have male children. According to the statistics committee, 25,000 abortions were conducted in 2008, up from 22,000 the year before. More than 60 per cent of them took place in the third month of pregnancy, which is when the sex of the child can be easily discovered by ultrasound scans. That, experts say, is likely to mean the majority of the aborted foetuses were female. The trend is having a significant effect on the proportion of boys and girls born in the country. According to the State Statistics Committee, in the first nine months of 2009, 109,500 children were born, 54.1 per cent of them boys and 45.9 per cent girls. Currently, the population as a whole shows almost equal numbers but if the abortion of female foetuses continues then the country could become unbalanced. The parliament is currently debating banning abortions after the sex of the child is known to prevent the gender proportions in the population becoming dangerously unbalanced.

Source: Human Rights Tribune

UNFPA presents Action Plan for Uzbekistan.The Government of Uzbekistan and United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in Uzbekistan signed the Country Programme Action Plan (CPAP) for the period of 2010-2015. The CPAP is built around three major components - reproductive health and rights, population and development, and ensuring full implementation of women and men's rights, opportunities and responsibilities. During the new programme cycle, UNFPA will assist the Government of Uzbekistan in improving maternal health, strengthening contraceptives logistics and management system, expanding access of youth to information on reproductive health and STI/HIV prevention, ensuring effective monitoring of MDG targets, strengthening national capacity in demography and statistics as well as ensuring full implementation of women and men's rights.

Source:Trend Daily News (Azerbaijan)

European Parliament Resolution on Preventing Trafficking in Human Beings.According to Europol’s assessment for 2009, trafficking of women for sexual exploitation has not decreased and trafficking for forced labour is increasing. Trafficking takes many forms. It is linked to sexual exploitation, forced labour, the illegal trade in human organs, begging, illegal adoptions and domestic work. Of the identified victims of trafficking, 79% are women and girls. Victims of human trafficking, especially women and children, should receive protection and "unconditional" assistance, demanded the EP in a resolution adopted on 10th of February. The victims should be entitled to free legal aid, the penalties for traffickers should be rethought and ways must be found to discourage demand for services supplied by the victims. The EP calls on Frontex and national border-control agencies, in the course of their activities, to define common practices in order to raise staff awareness of the issue of trafficking and to identify victims of trafficking and ensure their protection.

Source:European Parliament

Groundbreaking Inclusion of Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity Shows Commitment to Rights and Freedoms in Albania.The anti-discrimination bill approved by Albanian lawmakers on February 4, 2010, is an important step toward ensuring equality for all. The bill, which Albania’s government had proposed and promoted, is designed to protect Albanians from all forms of discrimination, including on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity. Article 1 of the bill defines equality, and includes sexual orientation and gender identity among the reasons equality should not be infringed upon. Article 3 defines discrimination, incorporating every ground mentioned in article 1.

Source:Human Rights Watch

Early marriage causes increase child and maternal mortality rates in Azerbaijan. Early marriages cause increase of the child and maternal mortality, growing numbers of divorces, lack of women's education. That is the conclusion of a study carried out with the support of the State Committee for Family, Women and Children and UNICEF office in Azerbaijan. According to the studies, misinterpretation of religious dogma and patriarchal principles of the society are the main reason of early marriages. Furthermore, marriage and parenthood is perceived as the most important achievement of woman. Proposals for improving legislation and strengthening the mechanisms of its implementation in the fight against early marriages was prepared and submitted to relevant agencies as a result of studies.

Source:Trend Daily News

The Spanish Senate's passage of the bill on abortion gives it final approval. Spanish Senate approved a new law that eases restrictions on abortion, declaring the practice a woman's right and doing away with the threat of imprisonment, in part of a drive toward liberal policies that has angered conservatives and the Catholic Church. According to the new bill, abortion is allowed without restrictions up to 14 weeks and gives 16- and 17-year-olds the right to have abortions without parental consent. The new bill also permits abortion up to 22 weeks if two doctors certify there is a serious threat to the health of the mother, or fetal malformation. Beyond 22 weeks, it would be allowed only doctors certify fetal malformation deemed incompatible with life or the fetus were diagnosed with an extremely serious or incurable disease. Under the previous law, which dates back to 1985, Spanish women could in theory go to jail for getting an abortion outside certain strict limits — up to week 12 in case of rape and week 22 if the fetus is malformed. The new bill will be published in the state bulletin next month and will take effect four months later.

More:El Pais


Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) 2010. The fifty-fourth session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) will be held from March 1 – 12, 2010 in New York.The theme for the session will focus on reviewing and appraising the Beijing Platform for Action (BPfA). 2010 marks the 15th anniversary of the Beijing World Conference on Women. The fourth in a series of World Conference for women, the Beijing conference defined a clear direction for women’s advancement by adopting the BPfA. Regional review processes - including the preparation of regional review reports and the organisation of regional intergovernmental meetings - are being undertaken in all five regions by the United Nations regional commissions. For detailed schedule of the events and list of side events go to:


UN Platform for Action for Gender Equality.Fifteen years after the UN's Fourth World Conference on Women, held in 1995 in Beijing, much remains to be done, believe Members of European Parliament (MEPs). The MEPs recognised that at the international level the most significant process takes place in the Beijing framework of the United Nations. The Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995 based its work on the fundamental principle whereby the human rights of women and the girl child are recognised as an inalienable, integral and indivisible part of universal human rights. Although the European Union has been pursuing the goal of equal treatment of women and men for over half a century, fifteen years later progress at the global level has been made only in some of the areas identified in the Beijing Platform for Action. The report prepared by the Swedish Presidency of the Council of European Union examines how can the European Union support the UN work on gender equality.

More:European Council.

Reform of European Court of Human Rights: joint declaration reached in Interlaken. In the framework of its Chairmanship of the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers, on 18 and 19 February 2010 Switzerland organised a Ministerial Conference in Interlaken in order to decisively spur the reform of the overburdened European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). By issuing a joint declaration the representatives of the 47 Member States of the Council of Europe confirm their intention to secure the long-term future of the ECHR.The Conference aimed at setting the course for the future reform of the ECHR. With the issuing of a joint declaration the event was crowned with success. According to the declaration it is necessary in particular to reach a balance between the incoming cases and the settled ones and to reduce the volume of approximately 120,000 outstanding cases as well as to guarantee that new appeals are dealt with in reasonable time. Moreover, the national implementation of the Court's judgments should be improved and the Committee of Ministers should guarantee an effective supervision of the implementation process. In order to reach these objectives the political declaration contains an action plan with a list of short and middle-term measures as well as an agenda for their implementation. Protocol 14 will therefore enter into force on 1 June 2010. More CoE at : CoE

USAID and Key Health Organizations Sign Consensus Statement on Family Planning as a Key Component of Post Abortion Care. Despite the high death toll from complications from abortion - unsafe abortion accounts for 13 percent of maternal deaths worldwide and as much as 25 percent in some countries, and some 31 million women have spontaneous abortions each year - many women do not receive immediate post-abortion family planning services, even though they are at risk of pregnancy within two to three weeks. While many of these women desire to replace the pregnancy they have lost, health experts recommend birth spacing of six months after a spontaneous abortion for optimal pregnancy outcomes. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID), together with the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics (FIGO), the International Confederation of Midwives (ICM), and the International Council of Nurses (ICN), has issued a consensus statement about the importance of family planning as a key component of post abortion care. The policy statement underscores the commitment of these organizations to ensuring their members advocate for high-quality post abortion family planning counseling and services. It is expected to set the standard for all post abortion care and will bring improvements to both family planning and maternal health care. More CoE at : USAID.

publications and resources

A State of Isolation. Access to Abortion for Women in Ireland. This 57-page report details how women struggle to overcome the financial, logistical, physical, and emotional burdens imposed by restrictive laws and policies that force them to seek care abroad, without support from the state. Every year thousands of women and girls travel from Ireland to other European countries for abortions.

To read the press release go to:Human Rights Watch

Religion, Politics & Gender in Serbia: The Re-Traditionalization Of Gender Roles In The Context Of Nation-State Formation. This paper argues that the intersection of national and religious identities and ideologies in the context of nation-state formation in Serbia which started in the 1990s made religion an integral part of the political process. Direct Link to Full 35-Page UNRISD September 2009 Report:UNRISD

upcoming events

Expanding Access to Medical Abortion: Building on Two Decades of Experience.. Lisbon, Portugal, 2-3-4 March 2010. ICMA Conference in collaboration with Ipas and Gynuity Health Projects.

More: ICMA

12-16 of April 2010 : Commission on Population and Development.The theme of the 43rd session of the UN Commission on Population and Development is health, morbidity, mortality and development.

More: UN

Conference on Life and Choice in the Abortion Debate.Princeton University - October 15 & 16, 2010. Confirmed speakers include: Frances Kissling, Helen Alvare, Chris Kaczor.

For further information, please contact Frances Kissling at fkissling@gmail.com

call for submissions

Globalized Motherhood: a Short Story Collection.This is a call for submission of literary works: contemporary short stories, memoirs, and creative nonfiction that convey the transformation of motherhood in the globalized moment. Short fiction and creative non-fiction offer the chance to illuminate these experiences and to vividly present the voices of those affected. We are looking for short stories and memoirs primarily in English, although it may be possible to translate some works; previously published work is welcome.

Please submit to:Wendy Chavkin at wc9@columbia.edu

call for action

Supporting Hungarian midwifes.NGOs and midwives in Hungary are looking for NGO support in proposed legislation governing home births and midwifery. NGOs interested in adding their names to a sign on letter should contact Julia Spronz at julia.spronz@telefonguru.hu.

IPAS Central America seeks support for petition for decriminalization of therapeutical abortion in Nicaragua.Non-governmental organizations challenged Nicaragua’s ban on abortion, filing a petition with the Inter-America Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) on behalf of a pregnant woman with advanced cancer. Because abortion is completely illegal in Nicaragua, “Amalia,” a 27 year-old mother of a 10 year-old girl, has been denied a therapeutic abortion and is not receiving life-saving cancer treatment as this will affect the well-being of the fetus.More information: Karen Padilla, Ipas Central America at padillak@ipas.org