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

Jan 31 2017

An investigation by the Institute for War and Peace Reporting recently discovered that hundreds of girls from the ethnic Avar community in eastern Georgia, in the villages of Tivi, Saruso, and Chantliskure, are being forced to undergo female genital mutilation (FGM). The shocking news was covered by national media and created a joint movement towards crimizalizing this practice although many people in the local communities believe it is connected to religion and part of local tradition.

On 24 January, the Georgian government approved the ratification of the Istanbul Convention on combatting domestic violence and violence against women, which includes criminalising FGM.
A similar act against a pregnant, disabled or underage woman will be considered an aggravating circumstance. Moreover, punishment will be tightened for stalking, forced sterilization and domestic violence.

Source: Georgia Today, IWPR

Jan 19 2017

A study commissioned by MEP Heidi Hautala, Perspectives on anti-choice lobbying in Europe, was published last week to reveal the networks and identify the actors who are part of the anti-choice movement that is active in the EU.

Sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), women’s rights and gender equality play an enormous role in ensuring fair, prosperous and equal societies. Despite the clear progress towards enhancing women’s reproductive choices both in the developed and developing countries, at national, European and international levels, there are those who aim to move backwards.

Anti-choice forces have increased their efforts, among others in the European Parliament, to push their ideas further into the political mainstream, mobilising through social media campaigns and co-opted moderate political group members to their cause. The study is to call out these questionable tactics and those who apply them, in order to make the wider public aware of them. It is crucial for pro-choice forces across the political spectrum to mobilise together to defend the rights that have been fought hard to secure.

Access the Study for policy makers on opposition to sexual and reproductive health and rights in Europe by Elena Zacharenko HERE.

Source: Heidi Hautala

Jan 16 2017

The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child issued its new General Comment on Adolescents which includes very progressive and strong language on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights of adolescents. Among other advancements, the new general comment:

  • Recognizes that states should remove parental authorization requirements for SRH info and services (para. 60)
  • Urges states to consider introducing a presumption of capacity for adolescents seeking preventative and time-sensitive SRH commodities and services (para. 39)
  • Urges states to decriminalize abortion to ensure that girls have access to safe abortion and post-abortion services, review legislation with a view to guaranteeing the best interests of pregnant adolescents and ensure that pregnant adolescents’ views are always heard and respected in abortion-related decisions (para. 60)
  • Recognizes that the voluntary and informed consent of the adolescent should be obtained whether or not the consent of a parent or guardian is required for any medical treatment or procedure (para. 39)
  • Calls on states to take into account the need to balance protection and evolving capacities in defining the legal age for sexual consent and avoid criminalizing adolescents of similar ages for factually consensual and non-exploitative sexual activity (para. 40)
  • Calls for age-appropriate, comprehensive and inclusive sexual and reproductive health education, based on scientific evidence and human rights standards and developed with adolescents to be  part of the mandatory school curriculum and reach out-of-school adolescents (para. 61)

Read the full text of the General Comment here.

Jan 10 2017

Brussels, 10th January 2017 // European Youth advocates concerned by recent developments in Poland call on the European Parliament to act now to monitor legislative developments and increasing restrictions to sexual and reproductive rights and services across Europe.

Recent developments in Poland have served to highlight the precarious state of women’s health and rights in Europe with rising political support for increased restrictions to women’s reproductive health such as access to contraceptives and abortion services. We are alarmed by statements being made by senior Polish government officials about the intention of the Polish government to withdraw from the Council of Europe Convention “Istanbul Convention” on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence.

Driven by their commitment to human rights and concerns over increased restrictions to reproductive health and services; youth advocates from ASTRA, ASTRA Youth, YouAct and CHOICE for Youth & Sexuality will be meeting with MEPs and policy-makers on Wednesday 11th and Thursday 12th January to demand a stronger European parliamentary response to increasingly regressive legislation in Poland and throughout Europe.

Jan 10 2017

The Ministry of Justice has prepared a project concerning Poland’s withdrawal from the Instanbul Convention. It went on to be negotiated between ministries. That information was received on January 3rd by the Advocate for Citizens' Rights, Adam Bodnar from the Prime Minister’s Office. In a December interview Prime Minister Beata Szydło assured that the government was not working on a withdrawal. Deputy Minister of Justice Łukasz Piebiak stated in December: “There is no government position that would aim to withdraw the Instanbul Convention, which does not imply that the members of the government do not debate it.”

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