Newsletter December 2009



 ICRH Belgium Newsletter

 December 7, 2009





At the end of November, we learned the good news that the BIDENS-study on the relation between violence and fear for childbirth, financed by the EU-DAPHNE programme, will be extended.

BIDENS is the acronym for the countries that participate in the study (Belgium, Iceland, Denmark, Estland, Norway and Sweden), and it is also the Latin name of the flower in the logo. The BIDENS study started in June 2007 and was coordinated by prof. dr. Berit Schei (Norway). The research hypothesis is that women who have experienced violence during their lifetime, will develop more fear of stillbirth, and therefore also have more  Caesarian sections  and instrumental deliveries. At this moment, the recruitment of participants has been finalized and more than 7000 questionnaires have been completed. In Belgium 866 questionnaires were completed in the Ghent university hospital, the Jan Yperman hospital in Ieper and the O.L.V. van Lourdes hospital in Waregem. The additional funding will allow the project partners to continue the study and proceed with further analysis, publication and dissemination of the results.

More information:


Gender Based-Violence in Humanitarian Settings Training Course Ghent 2009

From 2 to 13 November 2009, 24 humanitarian professionals from 16 countries have gathered in Ghent, Belgium for the third annual International Training Course: “Coordination of Multi-Sectoral Response to Gender-Based Violence in Humanitarian Settings”.

This two-week course is a joint initiative of the International Centre for Reproductive Health (ICRH, Ghent University) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) with funding from UNFPA, the Flemish Inter-University Council (VLIR) and the Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Cooperation.

The course is designed to improve knowledge, understanding and communication skills to effectively prevent and respond to GBV in humanitarian settings and to create and empower a network of senior-level professionals from a range of backgrounds and experiences (local and international NGO staff members, UN, government and academic representatives).

During the course participants learn all about IASC GBV guidelines, coordination skills, SOP’s, humanitarian systems & mandates, ethics & safety,  justice, advocacy, working with the media, ... . A detailed case study is used by participants throughout the course to apply elements of acquired knowledge.

Throughout the course these professionals became a close group of ‘friends’ who shared much more then just information, knowledge, coordination skills and experiences. They laughed, danced, had diner, went shopping, ... together and shared hopes and dreams for future activities and cooperation.

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Maternal morbidity in the first year after childbirth in Mombasa Kenya; a needs assessment.

Few services specifically address the needs of women in the first year after childbirth. This is especially true in sub-Saharan Africa where maternal health efforts have almost exclusively focused on antenatal and intrapartum care.

Women take their children to immunization clinics during infancy, most often for several visits. At present, health workers generally do not provide any interventions for women at these visits; this is an underutilised opportunity. This study among 500 women attending child health clinics in Mombasa Kenya showed that many of their health problems could be addressed by simple interventions provided while bringing their child for immunization. More than one third of women had an unmet need for contraception (39%, 187/475). Over half had anaemia, even higher in those who had a caesarean section. Many women had a reproductive tract infection, with one third having bacterial vaginosis (32%; 141/447) and 11% had HIV (54/496). Throughout the first year after childbirth, women had high levels of morbidity. Interface with health workers at child health clinics should be used for providing services and could make an important contribution towards improving women’s health.  Chersich MF, Kley N, Luchters SM, Njeru C, Yard E, Othigo MJ, Temmerman M. BMC Pregnancy Childbirth. 2009 Nov 5;9(1):51. [Epub ahead of print]PMID: 19891784 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]

The article can be downloaded at

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Enforcement of FGM-legislation in Europe

The Sexual and Gender Based Violence Team is proud to present its latest publication "Responding to Female Genital Mutilation in Europe’. 

The publication, subtitled ‘Striking the right balance between prosecution and prevention", takes a closer look at the legislation in all EU Member States and focuses on the difficulties in FGM law enforcement. In addition, the report includes policy recommendations and results of capacity-building workshops for professionals that were held in 5 different countries.

This publication is the result of a 2-year project (2007-2009), financed by the European Commission Daphne Programme. Partners were the organisation CAMS France, the University of Valencia (Human Rights Institute), the University of Malmö (Faculty of Health and Society) and the organisation FORWARD UK.

The full report can be downloaded at

More information:


Groundbreaking textbook on women and violations of sexual and reproductive health in a multicultural society

Els Leye and Marleen Temmerman have added the finishing touches to  a new book “Vrouwen onder druk: Seksualiteit in een multiculturele  samenleving” (Women under pressure: sexuality in a multicultural  society).

The volume, that will be published  in February 2010 by Lannoo Campus , uses  practical examples to analyze current issues and to fill the knowledge gap regarding violations of sexual and reproductive health and rights of women in a multicultural society. With a dedicated focus on Belgium and the Netherlands, topics examined  include harmful practices such as female genital mutilation and early marriage, as well as controversies regarding hymen repair and genital cosmetic surgery. It focuses equally on access to  healthcare for undocumented migrants, honour-related violence and violence against refugees and asylum seekers. Contributions derive from extensive research, advocacy and experience  by selected experts. The book aims to provide clear guidance to aid workers and 

students in the health sciences and social care. It will also prove of  great interest to anyone interested in the vulnerability of women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights in today’s 

multicultural society.

Leye, Els, and Temmerman, Marleen, "Vrouwen onder druk: Seksualiteit in  een Multiculturele Samenleving" , approx. 192 pages, paperback, Lannoo  Campus, ISBN 978 90 209 8576 3.

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AIDS orphans and other vulnerable children in Guinea

Over the past decade, the effects of AIDS-related parental death on children’s socio-economic, educational and psychological well-being have become apparent. Most studies, however, have compared the plight of so-called AIDS orphans with non-orphaned children only.

We conducted a cross-sectional survey to assess the psychological well-being and socio-economic hardship among 140 non-orphaned children, 133 children orphaned by causes other than AIDS (O) and 124 children orphaned by AIDS (O-A) in Conakry, N’Zérékoré and the villages around N’Zérékoré, Guinea. After adjustment for confounding factors, the psychological wellbeing score was significantly lower among O-A than among O (P<0.001). Additionally, AIDS-orphaned children were more likely to be engaged in economic activities (adjusted odds ratio (AOR) = 3.04; 95% CI: 1.45 – 6.36) and to go to bed hungry on a daily basis (AOR = 2.73; 95% CI: 1.24 – 6.02) than other orphans. This situation calls for sustainable and holistic approaches to ensure the psychological and socio-economic stability of AIDS orphans and other vulnerable children.

Wim Delva, An Vercoutere, Catherine Loua, Jonas Lamah, Stijn Vansteelandt, Petra De Koker, Patricia Claeys, Marleen Temmerman and Lieven Annemans, soon to be published in Aids Care.

More information:





Els Duysburgh

On November 1, Els Duysburgh started working at the ICRH as leader of the Maternal Health team. She will also be in charge of the Qualmat project.

Els Duysburgh, MD, MPH has 13 years working experience in health programmes in developing countries. She has worked several years in Nigeria, Afghanistan/Pakistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan/Central Asia. Initially she worked as a clinician, later she became more and more involved in project management and during the last 5 years she worked as a public health advisor. She mainly worked in the field of disease control; tuberculosis and leprosy control, sexual transmitted infection control and MCH programmes.  During 2 years she was technical advisor for a Mother and Child Health programme in Central Asia (covering parts of Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Kyrgyzstan).

More information:


Lucas Verhaegen

On December 1, Lucas Verhaegen started working at ICRH Belgium as science officer partner violence.

Lucas holds a bachelor degree in social work and a master degree in social-cultural sciences. As a researcher he cooperated in several research projects concerning violence, on topics such as reporting behaviour in relation to violence, harassment and violence in work situations, and the development of a registration method for domestic violence. At the ICRH,  he is working on the European DOVE (Domestic Violence Europe) project, an international study into the prevalence, risk factors and consequences of intimate partner violence in 8 European member states. More information:


Alexander Van Der Biest

Alexander "Lex" Van der Biest is since October 2009 an intern at the ICRH and provides dedicated research and admin support.

Alexander holds a BA (Hons) in International Relations and Security Studies, a MScEcon in Security Studies (Research Training) and postgraduate diplomas in Peace and Development and International Humanitarian Aid. His areas of interest include undocumented migration, human security, human rights, and gender in contemporary African armed conflict.

More information:


PhD students at the ICRH

The ICRH offices in Ghent regularly host PhD students from the  South for who ICRH Director prof.  dr. Marleen Temmerman is promoter or co-promoter.

Marlise Richter (University of Witwatersrand, South Africa), Wondwossen Lerebo (University of the Western Cape) , Simukai Shamu (University of the Western Cape, South Africa) have recently been with us  for a few weeks or months, and  Tizita Tilahun (Jimma University,  Ethiopia) has just arrived and will stay until March 2010.