ASTRA Central and Eastern European Women’s Network for Sexual and Reproductive Rights and Health

May 21 2017

Croatian’s Platform for women’s reproductive rights organized a series of actions in order to highlight the real intension of the so-called “March for life”

Zagreb, Croatia: Platform for women's reproductive rights warns that the so-called "March for life" is a political gathering that has nothing to do with the preservation of life but has an agenda to restrict abortion accessibility and to make it illegal. In other words, to take away a women's right to decide if she wants to, when and with whom to have children. 

Activists that are defending women's right to abortion have organised a series of actions along the route of the so-called "March for life" in the capital of Croatia, Zagreb, as well on the buildings on the main square in which the "March for life" took place. All actions were organised in order to highlight the real intentions of the gatherings and warned that this is a walk on women and their rights.

With a transparent that said "March for life is attacking women" that was being carried in front of the "March for life", non-violent sit-in action of women in front of the "March" that got them arrested, transparent "Church and the state in a war against women" and "March for life is attacking women" on two buildings that are facing the main square, the activists have sent out a message that they will not let women's rights be eliminated. 

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May 16 2017

The 27th session of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) was held at the UN Human Rights Council, in Geneva, from 1-12 May 2017. Eleven countries were reviewed during UPR27, among them Poland. The Federation for Women and Family in collaboration with the Sexual Rights Initiative submitted a report (read it here) to the Human Rights Council on the UPR focusing on violations of women’s sexual and reproductive rights in Poland including restricted access to abortion and contraception, biased and poor quality comprehensive sexuality education, poor ante-natal care and lack of access to medically assisted reproduction. The escalating violations of Polish women’s sexual and reproductive rights place their lives and health at risk and undermine their rights to bodily autonomy and integrity, privacy, to be free from torture, to education and to self-determination.

The UPR outcome for each State reviewed during UPR27 will be adopted at the 35th session of the HRC (June 2017). The outcome report indicates which recommendations the State agrees to implement, and its responses to other recommendations. This is the only opportunity for civil society to make an oral statement during the official UPR process. The Federation for Women and Family in collaboration with Sexual Rights Initiative will work to ensure that sexual and reproductive rights are visible during this segment of the UPR process.

The intervening period is an opportunity to engage in dialogue with States on accepting relevant recommendations – and, at the same time, not accepting those recommendations that are inconsistent with human rights norms and standards. It is also a means for gaining the support of media and the general public.

Deferred Recommendations during the 27th UPR session:

  • Amend the Act on Equal Treatment in order to prohibit discrimination, in a comprehensive manner, including on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, in all areas and sectors, in particular, taking into account access to education, health, social protection and housing (Mexico)
  • Expand the scope of the compulsory course on family life education, to provide a comprehensive and age-appropriate education on sexual and reproductive health and rights and to ensure unimpeded access to sexual and reproductive health services, including to safe and legal abortions (Slovenia)
  • Strengthen the elimination of all forms of violence against women by criminalizing domestic violence and marital rape (Belgium)
  • Ensure that women are provided the necessary medical and professional service to exercise their legal right to termination of pregnancy, and ascertain that women have the right to decide over their own bodies (Sweden)

Click here for the full list of recommendations made related to sexual rights, including State responses during the 27th UPR session.

May 11 2017

On 11 May 2017, the Council adopted two decisions on the signing of the Council of Europe Convention (Istanbul Convention) on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence. 

By deciding to join the Istanbul Convention, the European Union confirms its commitment  to combating violence against women within its territory and globally, and strengthens the  existing legal framework and its capacity to act. 

Helena Dalli, minister for Social Dialogue, Consumer Affairs and Civil Liberties of Malta said : "Violence against women is a violation of human rights and an extreme form of discrimination. By joining the Istanbul convention, the EU reaffirms its leading role in ending violence against women and tackling all forms of discrimination based on gender. This is yet another achievement that will surely have a positive effect on those who are vulnerable to gender-based violence." 

All EU member states have already signed the Convention. Having the EU join the Convention as well will ensure complementarity between the national and EU level and will consolidate the capacity for the EU to play a more effective role in international fora such as the Council of Europe Group of Experts on Action against Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (GREVIO). 

The decision on signing is the first step in the process of the EU joining the Convention. Following the official signing,  accession requires the adoption of the decisions on the conclusion of the Convention. These decisions will need the consent of the Parliament.

Source: European Council

May 04 2017

The Great Coalition for Equality and Choice, consisting of over 70 non-governmental organizations, was established as a reaction to the offensive of anti-women groups. Among them these threatening actions are regular draft regulations directly attacking the life and health of women, restricting access to emergency contraception, frightening doctors in their work places, the shocking anti-abortion campaigns, the fight against comprehensive sexuality education, as well as the systemic weakening of the protection of women against domestic violence. These actions call for active and organized resistance of the civil society and all actors.  

The Coalition’s goal is the comprehensive fight for women’s human rights: quick threat identification, coordination of legal activities, and building social awareness. The group demand sexuality education, good standards of perinatal care, the fullness of reproductive rights, and the total elimination of violence against women. The coming weeks will shape the actions of the Coalition.

Read the full text here

May 02 2017

While considerable progress has been achieved in protecting human rights in recent years, the Lithuanian authorities still have to address some remaining shortcomings, in particular as regards the protection of women, children and persons with disabilities” said Nils Muižnieks, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, in a report released today based on a visit to the country carried out in December 2016.

Commending the progress made to prevent and combat domestic and gender-based violence, the Commissioner recommends harmonising the provisions of the Criminal Code and Criminal Procedure Code with those of the 2011 Law on Protection against domestic violence, most notably with regard to the application of protection measures. “Judges should be made fully aware of the important role they play in protecting victims, preventing repeated instances of abuse and bringing perpetrators to justice. Furthermore, a unified and systematic approach to preventing violence and responding to calls for help should be developed and consistently applied throughout the country”, said the Commissioner.

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