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Society Without Violence cooperation on enabling SRHR counselling for girls and young women in Armenia

In order to respond to poor awareness of girls and young women on SRHR issues in Armenia and sexual and reproductive health challenges faced by them, Society Without Violence has started cooperation with an Armenian-Canadian medical clinic ‘Maple Leaves’.

According to initial arrangements, the scope of cooperation includes awareness-raising sessions, medical consultations with gynecologists for project beneficiaries with a discount and provision of statistics and information on main sexual and reproductive health issues faced by young women. At the end of January the first event was arranged to be held in February within the V-Day movement. The event will be a seminar for young women facilitated by a gynecologist expert of Maple Leaves. The main topics of the seminar will cover issues related to women’s sexual and reproductive health. Participants of the seminar will have an opportunity to openly or privately consult the doctor and will be granted an opportunity to use the consultation services at Maple Leaves with a 20-30% discount.

Source: SWV

Law on conscientious objection in Croatia

Croatia: Doctors that refuse to do abortions should look for a job in church-funded hospitals

Three respected physicians, MD Dubravko Lepusic, MD Jasenka Grujic-Koracin and MD Gorjana Gjuric, whose Initiative for regulation of conscientious objection raised a public debate, explained their position on demanding that government-funded hospitals shouldn't employ doctors who refuse do to various medical procedures on the grounds of religious beliefs. 

Hospital, as a public institution that is funded by public money, has to secure the right of a woman to have an abortion. That is, and there should be no compromise on that certain issue. There are legal frames that guarantee that right. There are articles, in particular laws that also guarantee a right for a physician to practice conscientious objection, but that does not mean they are allowed not to put patients' needs first.

"It doesn't function in Croatia. Every doctor with conscientious objection, like those who work in the "Holy Spirit" hospital, which are massively refusing to do abortions, should work in a confessional hospital that should be funded by the Church. That's why we are demanding that confessional hospitals get established and that the institutional right for conscientious objection in public hospitals gets shut down, including pharmacy and transfusion medicine. It's a physician's obligation to provide services based on science, and not the religious dogma." - That's how the MD Jasenka Grujic-Koracin announces the initiative for the establishment of confessional hospitals, as just one of the series of projects the "Initiative of doctors for the regulation of conscientious objection in medicine" will pull off. The Initiative was presented to the public during the roundtable they've organized together with Center for education, counseling and research from Zagreb. 

Violations of the rights of the patients 

"If the conscientious objection would be applied consistently, the system would get broken, in every segment of human rights, not just the right to terminate a pregnancy. How far is it allowed to practice the conscientious objection? If we bring it to the level of absurd,  it would allow for the Jehovah's Witnesses to demand the abolishment of the Institute for Transfusion, the lawyers could demand to be exempt from defending the criminals they don't like, and the employees of the hospitals could just boycott everything that has any relation with a woman who had an abortion - the cleaning staff shouldn't wash the sheets that woman used, and the administrative clerks should deny writing her discharge letter." - that's how MD Jasenka Grujic-Koracin explains the motives that are behind the need for the doctors to merge into the Initiative. 

MD Lepusic told a story from his practice: because her doctor of the primary health care refused to prescribe her contraception, a seventeen-year-old girl came to have abortion two times, in a timespan of a couple of months. She had to go to the hospitals with ther parents.  Except from extreme dark examples, it's important to highlight a dark secret on missusement of the conscientious objection,  that gets mentioned a lot on gatherings of doctors and in the culoars - that there are doctors that practice their right not the perform an abortion during the working hours, but still perform terminations of pregnancies in private clinics. 

The doctors that are gathered in the Initiative demand from the Government and from the Ministry of Health that the conscientious objection regulates more precisely. From defining what are the cases of negative, as well as a positive conscientious objection, to determine a more clear procedure, to regulate the accreditation of institution that has a greater number of people who practice their CO right and thus don't do all of the tasks that are listed under their affair. They wish to have a very clear and written procedure of recognition of the individual right to practice CO, similar as it exists in the military service. Furthermore, they wish to abolish the right some people and to pray in front of the hospitals any by that interfere with regular work of the hospitals, and to form some "buffer" zones which wouldn't allow those people to come near the hospitals. 

The Conscientious Objection Registry 

The doctors from the Initiative demand the forming of a registry for the institutions and the Ministry of health, as well as trough the different professions, and to deter the measures that would compensate the loss made because of the conscientious objection. That would mean that, per instance, if a person refuses to do something because of his/hers CO, that would be deducted from that person's paycheck, which would lower unnecessary cost and leave more money for the "fund" that would be used to pay external associates, as MD Lepusic explains. 

The right to practice a conscientious objection was brought to Croatian law in 2003. The drama surrounding the abortion rights has just brought them to the light, but it's not related exclusively to abortion, but to the whole reproductive and palliative medicine, as well as transfusiology and prevention. The last one is related to the HPV vaccine; Lepusic says: "While we're holding discussions on vaccines and are not one of the 58 countries in the world that have it in their national program, in Croatia around hundred women per year die from cervical cancer. The world moves forward - there has been registered another nine-valent vaccine in America. It covers nine types of viruses." 

Source: JutarnjiLIST

Youth organizations’ joint article on youth SRHR in Entre Nous

The 83rd issue of the European Magazine for Sexual and Reproductive Health ENTRE NOUS "Sexual and reproductive health: are you satisfied?" has been published. It includes the joint article developed by ASTRA Youth, YSAFE, YouAct and Y-PEER, called “Youth matters! Why invest in young people’s and adolescents’ Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights?”

The article discusses various youth SRHR issues such as violence against women and girls, access to SRH services and supplies, access to abortion services for young women and information and education about SRHR, as well as highlights why youth rights must be prioritized.

The Entre Nous issue with the article is accessible here.

Source: WHO Europe

Croatian project on sexuality education for adolescents

Center for Education, Counseling and Research – CESI will continue carrying out the project ‘Good advice is worth gold’ with the support of the City of Zagreb, to provide sexuality education to adolescents in Croatia in 2016.

Adolescents involved in the project will receive comprehensive information on sexual and reproductive health through online counselling at, educational materials distributed in middle schools in Zagreb as well as workshops on sexuality and responsible and safe sexual behaviour held by project team in high schools.  CESI aims to respond with this project to needs of adolescents, who don’t receive comprehensive information on their sexuality. Parents remain reluctant to discuss sexuality and school also doesn’t ensure access to comprehensive sexuality education. Informing young people on their sexual and reproductive health is particularly crucial in Croatia in the light of negative epidemiological trends and spread of STIs such as chlamydia and HPV.

Apart from the project, CESI is involved in continuous advocacy for sexuality education in schools and provision of comprehensive information on sexual and reproductive health to adolescents. The organization would like to open the special counselling clinic in Zagreb, where adolescents could receive all necessary information related to youth sexuality.


Strategizing meeting on youth SRHR issues

The Asian-Pacific Resource& Research Centre for Women (ARROW) has conducted a 2-day strategizing meeting with some ARROW partners, friends and allies ‘Working with Youth: Understanding the Ways Forward’ to discuss needs of young people, challenges and realities as well as to strategize ways of work to overcome them. ASTRA Youth coordinator was the only participant representing Central and Eastern Europe, contributing to the meeting with expertise on youth SRHR issues and challenges in the region.

During the meeting, representatives of youth civil society discussed definitions of youth and what should be the bases for these definitions. They enumerated issues which impact youth most: migration; religious issues; intersecting aspects of identities such as ability, race, ethnicity, class; discrimination and culture. It was also discussed what strategies are used by youth to overcome challenges they face. The understanding of activism was also debated along with considering activist identity. Meeting participants also worked on specific strategies to carry youth activism forward, focusing on youth-led accountability and provision of data. The meeting was recorded graphically to capture crucial conclusions from the discussions and these graphics are available here.

Source: ARROW

Lithuanian girls will get a free vaccination from human papilloma virus

From 2016, girls in Lithuania will have an opportunity to get a free vaccine for human papilloma virus that can cause cervical cancer. Cervical cancer is diagnosed for two women per day in Lithuania, and half of diagnosed women die. It is established that vaccination can reduce morbidity by 70%, so WHO recommends it as an effective solution that has to be free on the national level. So far, there are 26 countries in Europe that ensure these vaccinations for girls without any charge.

Source: FPSHA


Launch of the study on young people’s situation in Moldova

The Center for Demographic Research and UNFPA has released its third Barometer “The Situation of Young People in the Republic of Moldova: from Desiderata to Opportunities” and launched it officially during the Final Conference of the Academy of Young Workers, organized by the National Youth Council of Moldova.

The Barometer examines the situation of young people in the field of education, health and labour market. As it evidences, young people face social exclusion in education and employment, as 29% of young people are not enrolled in any form of training or professional development and are unemployed. At the same time, many young Moldovans study or seek a job abroad.

As regards youth health, the study evidences that the prevalence of sexually transmitted infections remains high, as 6 out of 10 people infected with STI are young people aged 15-29. In 2013, about 14% of new HIV cases were registered among people aged 15-24. This data testifies to lower percentage of young people holding comprehensive knowledge on HIV/AIDS transmission, as this rate dropped from 40.5% in 2005 to about 32% in 2013.

The participants of the conference discussed the outcomes of the Barometer, focusing on recommendations aiming to improve the quality of young people’s lives. The proposed solutions were related to enhancement of healthcare quality, including sexual and reproductive health; development of family life education and psychological support services.

Source: UNFPA Moldova,

Season's Greetings from ASTRA Youth Secretariat

Happy Holidays from ASTRA Youth Secretariat!

Thanks to our members, partners and allies for amazing work this year to enhance youth SRHR and all the best for 2016!

Protest to encourage politicians to solve the problem of sexuality education in Lithuania

Lithuanian Centre for Human Rights and young activists lead the protest near the Lithuanian Ministry of Education and Science office. With this protest, the activists wanted to encourage politicians to solve the problem of sexuality education in Lithuania. They highlighted that HIV spreads rapidly among youth and teen girls get pregnant two times more often than girls in the Western Europe countries. The protest participants held the banners with messages: ‘Ignorance doesn’t protect from diseases’,   ‘I want to know about contraception’, ‘I want planned parenthood’.

As the data of the Statistical Department shows, there were 13,3 labours for 1000 teenagers in Lithuania. It also evidences that teenagers start their sexual lives at the average of 16-17 years old, but one out of five doesn’t use any contraception at all.

The photos from the protest are accessible here.

Source: FPSHA

UN adopts the resolution on youth, peace and security

United Nations Security Council has adopted unanimously the ground-breaking resolution on youth, peace and security in early December.

The resolution builds on five blocks: participation, protection, prevention, partnerships and disengagement and reintegration. It recognizes youth as important group able to contribute positively to prevention and resolution of conflicts as well as influencing maintenance and promotion of peace and security. The Council urges Member States to increase youth participation in decision-making processes at all levels and consider ways to develop mechanisms for prevention and conflict resolution. Facilitation of inclusive and enabling environment in which youth actors, local communities and non-governmental agents can be engaged to develop strategies to counteract violent extremist narrative is also addressed in the document. Member States are also urged to increase their political, financial, technical and logistical support which pays attention to young people’s needs and participation in peace efforts, conflict and post-conflict realities.

The resolution is accessible at UN website.

Source: UN

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