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CEE Bulletin on Sexual and Reproductive Rights

No 04 (83) 2010

Table of contents:

burning issue

Empowerment of women living with HIV/AIDS in Eastern and Central Europe. Around 1.5 million people in Russia, Eastern Europe and Central Asia were living with HIV in 2008, 110,000 of whom became infected that year, with 87,000 dying of AIDS. It is estimated that over two-thirds of the area’s infected people live in Russia, and combined with Ukraine, these two countries account for 90% of the region’s total infections. Both countries also have some of the highest adult prevalence rates in the region, with 1.6% of Ukrainians and 1.1% of Russians infected. Significant numbers of people with HIV live in Belarus (13,000), Kazakhstan (12,000) and Uzbekistan (16,000) among other countries, with prevalence rates in Latvia (0.8%) and Estonia (1.3%) also being some of the highest in the region. Since 2001, HIV prevalence in Russia, Eastern Europe and Central Asia has roughly doubled, making the region home to the world’s most rapidly expanding epidemic. Heterosexual contact causes nearly two-thirds of infections in women in Russia and accounts for an ever-growing proportion of new infections. In 2000, women comprised 20.6% of new infections; in 2003, this figure was 38.5%; and in 2007, the proportion had grown to 44% or 135,000. In Ukraine, the growth of heterosexual transmission as a proportion of total HIV incidences between 2001 and 2006 (28% to 35%) is largely attributable to unprotected sex. Regionally, half of HIV-positive women became infected by partners. Women living with HIV/AIDS face double stigma and discrimination, and regionally implemented harm reduction programmes lack gender sensitivity. ASTRA Network is currently implementing a project on empowerment of women living with HIV/AIDS in our region. We are taking our SRHR, women’s and human rights expertise to tackle stigma and discrimination directed against women with HIV in our region. During two meetings held by ASTRA Secretariat in Lviv (2009) and Warsaw (2010) women from across the Europe and Central Asia region brainstormed about the issues faced by women in relation to HIV. Our objective is to highlight the wide range of issues across many sectors facing women in relation to HIV across the Europe and Central Asia region. Stigma and discrimination experienced by women living with HIV, the right to safe healthy motherhood, poor access to SRHR services, defective legal and policy frameworks, funding, availability of treatment were among the most burning issues brought up by the participants. Within the framework of the project ASTRA delegates will participate in AIDS 2010, the International AIDS Conference to be held July 18-23 in Vienna, Austria. Our participation in the conference will highlight the situation in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, regions experiencing fast growing HIV/AIDS epidemics. While many areas of the world have kept their HIV epidemics relatively stable, the region encompassing Russia, Eastern Europe and Central Asia is a glaring exception. Though the number of new HIV cases worldwide has been on the decline, infection rates are continuing to rise in some parts of the world, especially Eastern Europe and Central Asia. Here, HIV prevalence has almost doubled since 2001.

Stay tuned for new updates on the project at our website: ASTRA Network

regional updates

Lithuanian law on the ‘protection’ of minors enters the statute book.The Lithuanian Law on the Protection of Minors against the Detrimental Effects of Public Information entered into force. The law bars ‘minors’ from receiving information about any type of sexual relationships, and seeks to protect the ‘traditional’ concept of family defined by the Constitution as based on the union between a man and a woman. Last September the European Parliament officially condemned an earlier draft of the law forbidding the “propaganda of homosexuality and bisexuality” to minors. The proposed law gravely threatened freedom of expression and the right to impart and receive information freely, guaranteed by the Charter of Fundamental Rights and the European Convention on Human Rights. The European Parliament and the European Commission will closely monitor the application of the law and its effects on the fundamental rights of Lithuanian citizens—including minors.

Source: European Parliament's Intergroup on Gay and Lesbian Rights grouping Members of European Parliament

Lithuanian Parliamentarians try to overturn permit for international LGBT Pride in Vilnius. Lithuanian Parliament seeks to ban an international lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender pride event due to take place in Vilnius on the 8th May 2010. Municipal authorities authorised the three-nation Baltic Pride event last month. But a petition led by Petras Gražulis, member of the Order and Justice party, calls on the national Prosecution Office to reconsider the permit in the light of a new law banning minors from accessing information about “non-traditional” forms of family. Gražulis claims to have gathered over 50 signatures from Members of Parliament. The Lithuanian judiciary has yet to take account of the controversial new Law on the Protection of Minors in Lithuania. Human rights organisations in Lithuania and the European Union have expressed serious concerns regarding the law, which could obstruct the freedom of expression and assembly for groups supporting the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

Source: European Parliament's Intergroup on Gay and Lesbian Rights grouping Members of European Parliament

National Program on Gender Equality in Moldova.Moldova adopted a National Program on Gender Equality for 2010-2015. The program is a strategic document defining the goals of gender equality policies in the Republic of Moldova until 2015 and establishes priorities for action in this area. The document includes 8 priority areas and ensures the promotion of equal opportunities for women and men in the economic, political and social life.

More: Ministry of Labor, Social protection and family

Forced sterilizations in Uzbekistan.Uzbekistan's government retains strict Soviet-style control over health institutions in the predominantly Muslim nation of 27 million, whose population has been growing quickly. In 2008, Uzbekistan reported the birth rate of 2.3 children per woman. According to the Expert Working Group, an independent think-tank based in the Uzbek capital, Tashkent, the government has instructed health workers to surgically sterilize women as part of a campaign to reduce the birth rate. The Health Ministry decree issued in mid-February orders district doctors to recommend hysterectomy as an "effective contraceptive." The procedure requires partial removal of the uterus and makes women irreversibly sterile. The decree further orders each district physician to persuade "at least two women" a month to have the procedure. Uzbek law does not prohibit forced sterilization or removal of reproduction organs. The practice of forced sterilization dates back to 1999, when Uzbek President Islam Karimov expressed his dissatisfaction with high birth rate of about 4 to 5 children per woman and ordered measures to curb it.

Source:Irish Examiner

Over 97 maternal deaths registered in Kyrgyzstan in 2009. The issue of maternal mortality requires immediate attention in Kyrgyzstan. In 2009, 97 deaths were registered before and during childbirth, or from labour complications. This represents a 25 per cent increase on the previous year. Last year, the World Health Organization reported that global maternal mortality rates barely improved between 1990 and 2007. Commenting on the data from Kyrgyzstan, United Nations secretary general Ban Ki-moon said the lack of improvement was "an outrage". Figures showing a rise in the number of women dying in childbirth have only confirmed the multiple challenges facing maternity care provision in Kyrgyzstan, which is short of qualified hospital staff, medical supplies and equipment.

More:<>Dateline: Moscow

CEDAW Committee concluding observations on Ukraine.The UN Committee for the Elimination of Discrimination against women (the CEDAW Committee) which held its 45th session in Geneva between January 18th and Feb 5th has now listed the Concluding Observations for Ukraine that was among countries examined during the session. Although the government says the number of abortions fell from 31 to six per 1,000 women in the 1993-2004 period for girls in the 15-17 age group, the unwanted pregnancy rate, as well as the incidence of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), remain high and testify to insufficient preventive measures, according to the UN. The Concluding Observations address wide range of discrimination faced by women in Ukraine. The committee also noted the high rates of mortality for women, including an unusually high rate of HIV/AIDS infection. The Concluding Observations said, “The Committee recommends that the State party intensify its efforts to improve women’s reproductive health and provide adequate family planning services and affordable contraceptives, as well as to reduce the use of abortion. It encourages the State party to continue providing sex education systematically in schools, including vocational training schools.” The committee also slammed the adherence of many in Ukraine to traditional roles for women, calling it the “persistence of traditional stereotypes” urges Ukraine to eliminate discrimination against vulnerable groups of women .

Source:Kyiv Post

To access concluding observations go to :OHCHR

Assessment of The Results Of The 2006-2010 Roadmap for Women and Men. The draft report assessing the results of the Roadmap and giving recommendations for the future takes into consideration the results of the successful public hearing organised on the new EU gender strategy at the end of January. Concerning the future recommendations the draft report proposes developments in the institutional cooperation such as holding regular meetings between the Council, the Commission and the Parliament on the progress in gender equality, as well as other regular meetings on specific issues with the participation of women's organisations, national parliaments in addition to the representatives of the European institutions. The second aspect of the proposals focuses on different policy aims, such as women’s economic status and linkages between gender and development.

More:European Parliament

Spain continues to champion its support for gender equality by 2020. The President of the Spanish Government and current rotational President of the European Union, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero spoke at a conference on 'Women for a Better World' in Valencia where he maintained support for gender equality. He confirmed that Spain will continue its support for the inclusion of the "complete affirmation of equality between men and women" in the 'Europe 2020' strategy’. This equality “continues”, said the President of the Spanish Government, with health rights, to fight against the fact 58 percent of African women are at risk of suffering from AIDS; for the right to education, because “it is also intolerable that out of a total of 920 million illiterate people, 600 million of them are women”.

More information can be found at:eu2010

The EP condemned female genital mutilation (FGM) as a violation of fundamental human rights as well as a savage breach of the integrity and personality of women and girls. It called on the Commission and Member States to draw up an overall strategy aimed at banishing FGM from the EU and to provide the means required to enable real and potential victims to be properly protected. It has also called for an improvement in the legal status of women and girls in countries where FGM is practiced, in order to increase women's self-confidence and their independent initiative and responsibility.

The resolution can be found at:European Parliament

Laszlo Andor’s letter to ASTRA Coordinator. In his response to letter sent by ASTRA Secretariat, Laszlo Andor the EU Employment Commissioner recognizes that „advocating in a collective voice for sexual and reproductive health and rights in all Member States is essential and I have to agree with you that it is of special importance in Central and Eastern Europe”. Further the Commissioner states that gender issues are of high priority for the new European Commission be it in their antidiscrimination aspects or as an aspect of health policy. ASTRA Secretariat hopes to start a closer collaboration with the Commissioner and to extend it to related dossiers like health and education.

To read the letter to Laszlo Andor go to:ASTRA Network

The Commissioner’s response is available at:ASTRA Network


Maternal and Child Health at the G8 Summit. On June 25-26, 2010, leaders from some of the world’s most powerful countries will gather in Canada, for their 36th annual G8 Summit. The G8 meeting will be followed by a meeting of G20 leaders. Although earlier this year, the Canadian Prime Minister announced his intention to make maternal and child health a development priority for the upcoming G8 Summit, recently, the Canadian government is expressing rather weak and ambivalent position on the inclusion of sexual and reproductive health and rights, including family planning and contraception, in its G8 maternal and child health initiative. We call on you to contact your government’s foreign ministry and arrange a meeting with the person responsible for the G8 and/or G20 summits. We encourage you to ask them to write a letter to the Canadian government expressing support for a comprehensive approach to addressing maternal and child health, with explicit reference to the importance of sexual and reproductive health and rights, particularly access to family planning, including contraception.


Universal Access Now.2010 is the deadline the international community set to achieve universal access to HIV prevention, treatment and care for all those in need. This commitment was first made by the Group of 8 (G8) in 2005, and was subsequently endorsed by all UN Member States at the 2005 UN Millennium Summit and then incorporated in the 2006 Political Declaration on HIV/AIDS. While there has been significant progress towards universal access in recent years, this progress remains fragile, and is now threatened by inadequate financial and political support. The IAS has launched a major advocacy campaign to hold world leaders accountable for their promise to fund universal access. We look forward to working with our membership and our partners to building an ever stronger and more vocal movement in support of universal access.

Source:International AIDS Society.

The 54th session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women's (CSW). The Beijing Platform for Action was adopted in 1995 at the Fourth World Conference on Women, convened by the United Nations. The Platform for Action concentrates on key issues identified as obstacles to the advancement of women around the world. The Commission on the Status of Women 54th Session (02-13 March) reviewed the status of the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action, 15 years on. Although the session examined the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action, 15 years after it was adopted, the outcome document of the CSW's 54th session fails to strengthen the commitments undertaken in Beijing. The Commission on the Status of Women concluded its fifty-fourth session with the adoption of six resolutions on a range of issues concerning gender equality and women’s empowerment, and the approval of one text, by recorded vote, on Palestinian women, to be sent to the Economic and Social Council for adoption. The CSW adopted 6 resolutions – (1) United Nations Gender Entity, (2) Release of women and children during hostage taking, (3) Maternal mortality and morbidity, (4) Economic Empowerment, (5) Women, the Girl Child and HIV/AIDs, (6) Ending Female Genital Mutilation.

The resolutions adopted during the 54th session can be found on:UN.

World Health Day,April, 7th is celebrated to mark the founding of the World Health Organization (WHO). This year’s celebration is to focus on urbanization and health. The theme was selected in recognition of the effect urbanization has on our collective health globally and for us all individually. On this day around the globe, thousands of events mark the importance of health for productive and happy lives.

For more information, visit:WHO.


2009 Annual Report on Sexual and Health Rights of Marginalized Communities – Macedonia. Macedonia’s Coalition for the Promotion and Protection of the Sexual and Health Rights of Marginalized Communities released its first annual report on the sexual health and rights of marginalized people in the country. The report is based on 40 documented cases of violence or discrimination against sex workers, people living with HIV, drug users, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people. In addition to discussing individual cases, the report tracks policies and legislation that influence the human rights of these groups.


Report: Ending Domestic Violence In Albania. Three years since the Domestic Violence Law was introduced, Amnesty International notes that some progress has been made in addressing domestic violence in Albania. More women now have the confidence to report domestic violence to the authorities. Yet, despite the growing number of petitions made for protection orders, the Albanian government needs to take further measures to implement the law and ensure the prevention of, protection from, and prosecution of domestic violence.

Direct Link to Full 16-Page 2010 AI Report::AI

upcoming events

AIDS 2010: Youth Pre-Conference. July 14 - 17, 2010 Vienna, Austria. The Vienna YouthForce and the Youth Programme of AIDS 2010 are organizing a Youth Pre-Conference supported by UNFPA. The Pre-Conference is open to young people attending AIDS 2010. The pre-conference will consist of informative sessions and skills-building workshops on HIV and AIDS issues ranging from scientific knowledge to effective political advocacy. Participants will also gain skills in research methodology, monitoring and evaluation, and media and communications, as well as updated information on prevention strategies, harm reduction, and treatment, care and support. A call for sessions, trainings and facilitators will be made by end of March.

For more information: YOUTH@AIDS2010.ORG

Campaign and March for the right to abort for all women in Europe, 1st April 2010, Brussels. A platform of civil society organizations from Belgium, Cyprus, Ireland and Poland joined forces to lead a campaign on the right to abort for all women in Europe and celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Belgian law decriminalising abortion. The platform has delivered an open letter and is calling on national and European organisations and politicians. It will be sent to the European states which do not recognise the right for women to abort and to the European Union.


Global Maternal Health Conference 2010. New Delhi, India. August 30, 31, September 1. The Maternal Health Task Force (MHTF) and the Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI) are pleased to announce the Global Maternal Health Conference 2010. The Global Maternal Health Conference 2010 aims to build on the existing momentum around MDG5 to coalesce and catalyze the maternal health field. Lessons learned, neglected issues, and innovative thinking will be the underpinnings of the conference, and the anticipated outcome is increased consensus around the evidence, programs and advocacy needed to improve maternal health.

Details will be available at:Maternal Health Task Force

call for papers

JIAPAC Journal of the International Association of Physicians in AIDS Care.JIAPAC, the Journal of the International Association of Physicians in AIDS Care, is a bimonthly, peer-reviewed, MEDLINE-indexed journal dedicated to publishing original manuscripts in the field of HIV medicine, but with an emphasis on those manuscripts that relate to real-world clinical practice. JIAPAC is issuing a general Call for Papers for upcoming issues of JIAPAC that will include special themed sections: Sequencing of Antiretroviral Regimens in Treatment-Naive and/or Treatment-Experienced Patients; Managing Antiretroviral Drug Resistance; Managing Metabolic and Morphologic Complications of HIV and/or Its Treatment; Managing HIV Coinfection with Hepatitis B Virus or Hepatitis C Virus; Promoting/Enhancing Adherence to Antiretroviral Therapy; Scaling Up Access to HIV Prevention, Care, and Treatment in Resource-Limited Settings.

For manuscript submission guidelines, visit : JIAPAC

action alert

Keep The Promise Now! In 2005 the G8 committed to providing access to HIV treatment, prevention, care and support for all those who need it by 2010. Despite this promise, those needing access to life saving antiretroviral drugs stands above 9 million, dwarfing the 4 million people currently on treatment. World AIDS Campaign has launched the online petition Keep The Promise Now! to tell leaders of the world’s richest countries to live up to their faltering commitment to fund access for all to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support by the end of this year.

More details: UA2010