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CEE Bulletin on Sexual and Reproductive Rights

No 09 (88) 2010

table of contents:

burning issue

MDG Summit. Ten years on from the original adoption of the MDGs at the 2000 Millennium Summit, and despite remarkable progress in some countries, collectively we are falling short in their achievement. The consequence of these shortfalls, further aggravated by the combined effects of the global food, climate, energy and economic crises, is that improvements in the lives of the poorest are happening at an unacceptably slow pace and in some countries, hard fought gains are being eroded. At the current pace, several of the eight MDGs and associated targets are likely to be missed in many countries. The challenges are most severe in the least developed countries (LDCs), land-locked developing countries (LLDCs) and some small island developing states (SIDS). In 2010, women and girls are still the majority of poor and vulnerable people. Gender equality and women’s empowerment is not fully conveyed in the global MDG targets and their importance is by no means reflected in the MDG indicators, the only means to measure progress towards these goals. But gender equality – and the empowerment of women as a prerequisite to it – has been recognized by a variety of international conferences and agreements prior to the MDGs, especially the Beijing Declaration and Platform of Action and the Program of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD PoA). Both conferences acknowledged that sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) are not only essential human rights but also fundamental in tackling issues related to population, to end violence against girls and women, and fighting inequality and poverty by fostering human and national development. United Nations High-level Plenary Meeting on the Millennium Development Goals (MDG Summit) will take place from 20-22 September at UN Headquarters in New York. The summit is conceived by UN Member States as a significant opportunity to galvanize commitment, rally support and spur collective action in order to reach the Millennium Development Goals by 2015. The summit will focus on accelerating progress towards the achievement of all the Millennium Development Goals by 2015, taking into account the progress made with regard to the internationally agreed development goals, through a comprehensive review. The meeting will result in the adoption of a concise and action-oriented outcome to be agreed by Member States. .

Source: UN

Join the "United Nations Millennium Campaign" at: End Poverty

To read letter regarding the Secretary General’s Plan signed by women’s rights activists go to: ASTRA Network

EuroNGOs Conference and AGM 2010 “Gender and SRHR at the Heart of the MDGs”, 8th and 9th November 2010. EuroNGOs acknowledges that attaining the MDGs will not be possible without a much stronger focus on gender issues in general and SRHR in particular. Building upon the results of the Beijing+15 and MDG summits, the EuroNGOs conference 2010, hosted by EuroNGOs member organization Marie Stopes International (MSI) in London, UK, will be entitled “Gender and SRHR at the Heart of the MDGs”.

More: EurNGOs

regional updates

Majority of Lithuanians support legal abortion.More than 84 percent of Lithuanians said they could justify abortion as an acceptable course of action in unwanted or dangerous pregnancies, a survey has shown. Lithuania has taken a conservative path on abortion, limiting it except in cases where the mother’s health is in danger or if she conceived the child during sexual molestation. According to the recent survey, 36.3 percent of respondents believe a woman must decide what is right for her, while another 48 percent said abortion could be justified for personal reasons, maternal health factors or other reasons. The country’s conservative law on abortion was only supported by 9.2 percent of respondents to the survey, who could not justify abortion. Another 6.5 percent did not have a formed opinion. Statistics show that abortion is becoming less and less common in Lithuania, particularly since laws surrounding it were tightened. Last year there were 8,024 abortions while in 2008 there were 9,031 and in 2007, 9,596.

Source: Lithuanian Tribune

Lithuanian Government pondering choices of in vitro fertilization law.The Lithuanian Health Ministry has produced a draft of an in vitro fertilization (IVF) law with two options in it. The conservative option of the law includes donating germ cells only among partners or married people. In such case, the storage and refrigeration of the embryos would be impossible and the implanting them to the patient would be limited to three times. Another suggested alternative, a more liberal one, allows the free choice of donors and refrigeration and storage of germ cells. The number of implanted embryos would be unlimited. The government agreed that additional discussions are needed and has postponed the decision.

Source: Lithuanian Tribune

Criticism has led the Education Ministry to withdraw the country's first-ever sex education guide from its website just months after publication in Czech Republic.The "Sex Education: Selected Topics" guide was launched in April and immediately drew criticism from the Catholic Church. After receiving the criticism from the Catholic Church, the ministry stood by its decision, saying sex education was needed as part of a holistic approach to promote and protect health in schools. The guide's topics include the protection of reproductive health of adolescents, HIV/AIDS, sexually transmitted diseases, sexual orientation, child abuse and neglect as well as the importance of parents monitoring Internet use by minors. The ministry said an urgent approach was needed following the results of various analyses that showed an increase in the number of HIV cases, rising levels of sexually transmitted diseases and increased domestic violence. Now, after the change of minister of education and new wave of criticism, coming this time from parents, the new minister announced that the controversial guide is to be retracted from the ministry's website.

More: Prague Post

SRH in Macedonia.According to the report published by Macedonian Health Ministry, last year only 500 women have voluntarily decided to undergo abortion in Skopje. The decline is striking compared with the statistics coming from the early 90s when there were 6000 interrupted pregnancies in the country. According to doctors of the State Gynecologist Clinic, the reduced number is no reason to rejoice as it doesn't take into account the unaccounted abortions that take place in private hospitals and clinics across the country. In fact, the government clinic continues to receive patients with complications caused by inappropriate and unprofessional termination of pregnancy. The research shows that level of abortion remains high and knowledge about contraception is scarce. According to the survey conducted by Gallup BRIMA in 2009, revealed that 94 percent of young women between 15 and 19 years and more than 50 percent Macedonian women were not using any contraceptives.


Kyrgyzstan’s Transgender Advocates Call for Right to Change Gender in Passports. In a region widely criticized for its human rights record, a handful of activists in Kyrgyzstan are attempting to enact significant reforms in how the state defends transgender individuals from harassment. Seizing on what they say is a liberal intermission in Kyrgyzstan’s transition from autocracy to parliamentary democracy – before elections this fall – they are fighting for the right to change the gender markers in their government-issued documents. Under existing legislation, transgender individuals are required to submit a medical form to their local civil registry certifying them as “transsexuals” in order to change their documents. But the form in question does not exist, activists complain. The process thus leaves their gender ambiguous.

For more information, visit:eurasianet

Research Sheds Light on Domestic Violence in Armenia.Almost one in ten women in Armenian has been physically ill-treated by their husbands or partners, according to government research commissioned by a United Nations agency. In what was the most comprehensive ever study of domestic violence in the country, the National Statistical Service interviewed nearly 2,800 female residents aged between 15 and 59 in late 2008 and early 2009. Yerevan-based representatives of the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) made its findings available to RFE/RL’s Armenian service.They show that 9 percent of respondents said they were occasionally or regularly beaten in domestic disputes. Another 3.3 percent alleged sexual abuse, usually accompanied by physical violence, at the hands of their husbands or boyfriends. A quarter of those polled claimed to have faced intimidation and other types of “psychological pressure.”.


Parliamentary Hearing on Polish Abortion Tourism reveals the need for Change of Anti-Abortion Law. Polish restrictive 1993’s anti abortion law permitting abortions only if pregnancy results from criminal offence or the life of the mother was seriously threatened or if there was severe deformation of the fetus. The introduction of the law didn’t influence the reduction of number of abortion but led to development of abortion underground and abortion tourism. The issue of abortion tourism was a topic of parliamentary hearing organized by Federation for Women and Family Planning. Invited guests, RH practitioners from Austria, Germany, the Netherlands, and UK highlighted one of the central characteristic of the phenomenon. In highly restrictive situations, class and socio-economic status play a huge role in whether or not a woman can access safe abortion. Only women who have financial resources can go to Western countries to obtain abortion. It is estimated that some 80, 000 – 200, 000 women undergo illegal abortion every year, and approximately 30, 000 women choose to cross the border in order to undergo a legal procedure. Although statistical data regarding abortion tourism, numbers provided by the speakers suggest the scale of the problem: for example, 400 abortions have been performed on Polish patients this year in German clinic near Polish border. The participants of the hearing underlined that the current abortion law is completely inadequate to meet the needs of women and girls seeking safe abortion care. Therefore, pregnant women and girls who are able to do are virtually forced to become abortion tourists. Although the term is often used in sexist and disparaging ways, what it really points to is that women's reproductive health needs are being ignored. Women are too frequently being deprived of their right to access safe, compassionate, and professional abortion services close to home.

Source:Federation for Women and Family Planning

Romanian National Agency for Equal Opportunities for Women and Men to be closed down. The Partnership for Equality Center and the FILIA Center, supported by the Romanian Women’s Lobby and others NGOs from Romania, protest against decision to abolish the National Agency for Equal Opportunities for Women and Men. The letter underlined that the decision ignores the EU call for more attention to be given to vulnerable groups and gender equality, especially in the context of the European Year for Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion.



United Nations International Year of Youth. On 12 August, the International Year of Youth was launched, with “Dialogue and Mutual Understanding” as the main theme of the year. The launch of the International Year also coincided with International Youth Day, observed every 12 August.Several international events are being held throughout the year, including the Fifth World Youth Congress held from 31 July to 13 August in Istanbul, and the World Conference for Youth in Mexico City from 24-27 August. Moreover, the celebration of the Year of Youth is a great opportunity to call on governments around the world to give young people full access to sexual and reproductive health care, in order to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The MDGs continue to fail women and young people. The MDG Summit in September is a crucial moment for governments to make up for lost opportunities, to ensure greater investment in women, children and young people, with sexual and reproductive health and rights at its centre.


The contraceptive implantis a highly effective, safe, and long-acting contraceptive method that has been shown to be acceptable to women worldwide. However, its the high cost has been a major barrier to its availability in many countries. Sino-implant (II), a low-cost and highly effective implant, is substantially less expensive than other alternatives on the market. FHI leads an effort to ensure the safe and sustainable introduction of Sino-implant (II) in resource-constrained countries in coordination with the manufacturer, distributors, donors and other partners.

For information about quality assurance, product registration, current research, resources and more check the recent newsletter at :FHI.

Empowering Women through Education. The Human Rights Council at its annual full day discussion on Women’s Human Rights in Geneva has been told that progress on gender equality in education is so slow it is unlikely to be achieved before 2040. This year’s discussion, “Empowering Women through Education” heard from a number of experts who talked of some progress but in totality described a situation where millions of girls continue to experience disadvantage and discrimination that prevents an effective education. Opening the panel discussion, Deputy High Commissioner Kyung-wha Kang pointed to research which shows that girls who are educated are likely to marry later, are better protected from a forced or early marriage, are likely to contribute to reducing the HIV/AIDS rate in their countries, will have fewer children and are less likely to suffer pregnancy-related complications or death. Girls who have been to school for a significant amount of time often become drivers for positive social change and when they are able to work, they are more likely than boys, to invest most of it in their families, she said. The Deputy High Commissioner highlighted the consequences of a lack of education for women; without schooling, women’s knowledge of nutrition, birth spacing and contraception are limited. “One telling fact is that the main cause of death for 15 to 19 year old girls worldwide is pregnancy and childbirth complications. They are part of the statistics of a staggering number of hundreds of thousands of women and girls who are lost each year during pregnancy and childbirth,” she said. UN Press Release - Girls Have a Right to Know - Education for Girls: OHCHR.

New UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Education.Mr.Kishore Singh (India) was appointed as a new Special Rapporteur on the right to education. Mr. Singh holds a PhD in International Law from the Sorbonne University of Paris. He worked at the Division for Human Rights and the Education Sector of UNESCO, and advised a number of international, regional and national entities on aspects of the right to education. Throughout his career, Mr. Singh supported the development of the right to education in its various dimensions and worked to ensure that this right is internationally recognized as a human right. He replaces Mr. Vernor Muñoz Villabos from Costa Rica.

The Special Rapporteur’s mandate:OHCHR.

New UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief.Heiner Bielefeldt (Germany), the new Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, is currently Professor of Human Rights and Human Rights Politics at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, and was the Director of the German Institute for Human Rights. Mr. Bielefeldt’s research interests include various interdisciplinary facets of human rights theory and practice, with a focus on freedom of religion or belief. He replaces Ms. Asmar Jahangir from Pakistan.

The Special Rapporteur’s mandate:OHCHR.

publications and resources

The Pregnancy Intentions of HIV-Positive Women: Forwarding the Research Agenda report was released by HSPH Program on International Health and Human Rights. The face of the global HIV epidemic has changed over the past decade and increasingly is becoming the face of a woman living in the midst of her childbearing years. Today, women represent nearly half of the 38.6 million people living with HIV. To date, research on HIV and pregnancy has generally assumed that women living in resource-limited settings who are HIV-positive will no longer want to bear children. However, with the dramatic increase in access to antiretroviral treatment (ART), greater numbers of HIV-positive women are living longer, healthier lives. In addition, increased access to ART has contributed to a substantial reduction in mother-to-child transmission in these settings. The desire of many HIV-positive women to pursue options for having children presents a clear and urgent need for more research into this area, with the ultimate goal of putting women at the center of decision-making on their sexual and reproductive health and rights. .

The URL for the full report is:HSPH

Reproductive Justice & Violence Against Women: Understanding Intersections. The purpose of this volume is to provide resources and an introduction to reproductive justice, focusing particularly on the connections between the elimination of reproductive oppression and domestic and sexual violence. Included is a basic definition of reproductive justice, information about the development and the history of the Reproductive Justice Movement, and related resources. Highlighted in this collection are resources that relate to the holistic well-being of women, families, and communities as it pertains to violence against women and reproductive rights and health. The publication makes connections between the Reproductive Justice Movement and the Sexual Violence and Domestic Violence Movements in the United States to demonstrate the necessity of collaboration. This collection was developed by the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence, and the Women of Color Network. Additional resources can be found by sending information requests to resources@nsvrc.org

upcoming events

10 years of UNSCR 1325: Ensuring Women’s Participation in Peace and Security.9 September 2010: The Belgian Presidency of the EU, together with EU Commissioner Ashton, are organising the Brussels Conference regarding the 10th anniversary of UNSCR 1325 on Women, Peace and Security.

More information: EUTRIO

take action!

Put human rights at the heart of the global fight against poverty - AI’s petition.Amnesty International has launched a petition addressed at the MDG Summit Presidents, to make sure that human rights and gender are at the heart of the MDGs and the global fight against poverty. Millions of people continue to face a daily struggle to live in dignity. In 2000, countries around the world agreed to eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) as a global initiative to eradicate poverty by 2015. Ten years on - five years from the deadline - these goals are still not a reality. Progress has been made, but it has been unequal. Goal five on improving maternal health, for instance, is the most off-track of all of the MDGs. Hundreds of thousands of women and girls continue to die in pregnancy and childbirth each year, and most of them live in the poorest countries and communities.

Source: AI