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UN Human Rights Body Urges Russia and Moldova to Protect Reproductive Rights

This May the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ESCR Committee) urged the governments of the Russian Federation and Republic of Moldova to promote, protect and fulfill women’s reproductive rights. The treaty monitoring body made these recommendations largely in response to the comprehensive advocacy strategy developed by the Center for Reproductive Rights (Center) and its partners. The ESCR Committee reviewed both Russia and Moldova in May.

Russia

The ESCR Committee’s strong recommendations to the Russian Federation regarding reproductive rights echoed many of the issues raised by the Center and the All Russian Family Planning Association (currently known as Russian Association for Population and Development – RAPD) in a shadow letter submitted to the Committee in April this year.

In its concluding observations, the Committee expressed concern over the lack of access to reproductive and sexual health services and limited knowledge on reproductive health, especially in rural areas. The Committee called on the state to increase knowledge of and access to affordable contraceptives, to ensure access to family planning services and information for everyone, including in rural areas, and to include sexuality education into school curricula. Moreover, it recommended including modern contraceptives in the public health insurance coverage.

In addition, the Committee requested the state to provide in its next periodic report data on “the right to health issues based on health indicators on an annual basis and disaggregated according to the prohibited grounds of non-discrimination…” The Committee has also recommended that Russia “work with the media and other opinion makers to promote a positive, non-stereotypical and non-discriminatory portrayal of women.”

Moldova

The Center and the Moldovan Institute for Human Rights (IDOM) submitted a shadow letter to the ESCR Committee highlighting concerns on the situation of women and girls’ sexual and reproductive rights in the Republic of Moldova. The Committee’s concluding observations echoed one of the letter’s main concerns, the absence of mandatory sexuality education in schools.
The Committee expressed concern that the course on sexual and reproductive health rights has been removed and recommended that the course be included in the implementation of the National Reproductive Health Strategy 2005-2015.
In addition,  the Committee observed that there is insufficient data on whether marginalized individuals and groups--in  particular Roma, persons with disabilities, non-citizens and persons living with HIV/AIDS—are able to exercise the rights protected by the international treaty on economic, social, and cultural rights. It urged the state to establish a system for collecting and monitoring such data on an annual basis.

The Center and its partners welcome the ESCR Committee’s concluding observations and urge the governments of the Russian Federation and the Republic of Moldova to promptly implement the recommendations.