Newsletter November 2010

ICRH Belgium Newsletter

 23rd of November?, 2010



 Launch of ICRH Mozambique

ICRH-Mozambique has been officially launched as an independent research centre based in Maputo. The ceremony was attended by many Mozambican and international key persons, among whom the First Lady of Mozambique.

ICRH has been active in Mozambique since 2002, with projects in the field of among others HIV/STI, maternal health and antenatal care, and has strong partnerships with national health authorities and the University Eduardo Mondlane (UEM). In the past, the activities of ICRH in Mozambique have been executed under the responsibility of ICRH Belgium, but in November 2009, ICRH-Mozambique was officially registered as an independent non-governmental organisation (NGO). The new organisation is headed by a Scientific Council, consisting of high-profile representatives from national and international institutions, such as the Ministry of Health, the National Health Institute, University Eduardo Mondlane, and ICRH-Global, the umbrella organisation of all ICRHs. ICRH-Mozambique is registering as a National Research Institute at the Ministry of Sciences and Technology in Maputo.

The official launch of ICRH Mozambique took place on 16 September in Maputo, in the presence of representatives of among others WHO, UNICEF, USAID, the Flemish Government and ICRH Global. Prof. Marleen Temmerman, founder of ICRH, expressed her satisfaction with the establishment of ICRH Mozambique and thanked all those who contribute to it. Dr. Nafissa Osman, president of the Scientific Council gave a broad outline of ongoing and future projects, and Ms. Maria da Luz Guebuza, First lady of Mozambique highlighted the importance of tackling Mozambique’s reproductive health problems in a scientific way and expressed her support to the new-born organisation.

More information: Laurence Hendrickx




Focal Point Harmful Cultural Practices (F?HCUS)

On November 29, the ICRH Focal Point on Harmful Cultural Practices will be officially launched.

Harmful cultural practices are still surrounded by controversy and misunderstanding. There is a general lack of knowledge on honour-related violence, forced marriage, and female genital mutilation  (to name but a few), both within the health care sector and among the broad public.

These practices are however complex and wide-spread, and their impact on the wellbeing of vulnerable groups is considerable. Despite the relevance and the magnitude of the problem, harmful cultural practices remain often invisible and stay too often outside the scope of counseling and prevention, policy and research. The new Focal Point on Harmful Cultural Practices (F.?.H.C.U.S.)  aims at filling these gaps.

F.?.H.C.U.S. will be presented to press and public on November 29, from 2pm until 4pm, in the Faculty Board Room (1P6)  of the University Hospital in Ghent. Speakers will be Prof. dr. Eric Mortier (Dean of the Ghent University  Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences), Mr. Jef Peeters ( CEO of the Ghent University Hospital), Prof. dr. Marleen Temmerman (director ICRH), Dr. Els Leye (ICRH senior researcher and leader of the Gender Based Violence team), and Mrs. Ingrid Lieten (Flemish Minister for Innovation, Public Investment, Media and Poverty Reduction.

More information and registration: Alexia Sabbe,


GBV Coordination Course

From 1 to 12 November 2010, the fourth edition of the international training course ‘Coordination of multi-sectoral response to gender-based violence in humanitarian settings’ took place at Ghent University. 

This two-week course  is being organized yearly by ICRH in cooperation with UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, and targets humanitarian professionals, experienced in gender-based violence in emergency and (post)conflict areas. Out of 135 applications, 22 participants were selected, working in 17 different countries.  They were trained on issues such as the rights-based and survivor-centered approach, the multi-sectoral model, humanitarian systems and mandates, funding mechanisms, monitoring and evaluation, ethical and safety issues, justice systems, sexual exploitation and abuse, advocacy, coordination and leadership skills and working with media actors. Various guest speakers from Ghent University contributed to the course.

More information: Anke Van Vossole,


Memorandum of Understanding for combating HIV/AIDS in Mozambique

On  October 6 the Fundação Vale Moçambique and the Consórcio Projeto Carvão Moatize have signed a Memorandum of Understanding with  USAID and ICRH Mozambique.

The agreement concerns the constitution of sectorial committees and of a steering board for Fundaçao Vale’s HIV prevention programme‘Estamos Juntos’. The objective is to involve diverse sectors of the civil society in Tete and Moatize in the programme, which foresees, amongst others,  the establishment of two new night clinics in Moatize and Tete, in collaboration with the Provincial Health Authorities and ICRH Mozambique.  The two new night clinics will replace the existing one in Moatize, which has provided sexual and reproductive health services, including HIV services, to vulnerable and high risk populations in the area, since 2004 with support from ICRH.  On October 29, the Flemish Government awarded a grant of 553.000 EUR to ICRH-Belgium to complement the funding by the other partners for further expanding and strengthening sexual and reproductive health services for most-at-risk populations.

More information: Diederike Geelhoed


New project: Honour-based violence

ICRH starts a project on ‘scientific phenomenological research on honour related violence in Belgium’, in collaboration with RHEA, Centre for Gender and Diversity, and the Faculty of Criminology at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel.

The project started on November 1st 2010, and is being financed by the Safety and Prevention Department of Belgian Federal Public Service Home Affairs, and by the Institute for Equality of Women and Men. Aim is to detect the psychosocial, ethnical en cultural processes underlying honour related violence, and make recommendations to improve procedures and policies concerning honour related violence in Belgium. By interviewing key persons and by analyzing relevant case studies, an assessment will be made of honour related violence in Belgium. Furthermore, European and international policies and interventions will be examined to determine their applicability in the Belgian context.

More information: Anke Van Vossole,



Belgian guidelines for low risk birth

The Belgian Health Care Knowledge Centre (KCE) has published clinical practice guidelines relative to normal birth in healthy pregnant women at low obstetric risks.

The guideline (KCE report 139) is based on a systematic review of the literature and covers a broad range of topics such as information before maternity admission, labour induction, care at admission and during labour, management of delivery and first newborn care. The guideline is intended to be used in maternity units by all health care providers involved in maternal and newborn care in order to reduce variability of practices and to improve quality of care.

The report is available in a Dutch, French en English version and can be fully downloaded at:

More information:,


‘Facing Violence’: a book unveiling Sexual and Gender Based Violence Issues in Kenya

Within the context of a ‘Facing Violence’, a multi-media project to unveil sexual and gender based violence issues un Mombasa, ICRH Kenya has published a book with testimonies of victims and photographs.

The objective of the Facing Violence project, which is sponsored by the Planned Parenthood Federation of America International (PPFA-I), is to use multimedia to create awareness on the magnitude and consequences of Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) for vulnerable groups and further promote services for SGBV survivors in Mombasa. One of the outcomes of the project is a book containing 12 stories collected from participants who were identified and recruited through the Gender Based violence Recovery Clinic (GBVRC) and ICRHK’s Peer Educators programme. The stories relate to women, children, Sex Workers (both male and female) and Men having Sex with Men (MSM). The perpetrators ranged from strangers to neighbors, relatives, family friends, sex worker’s clients and law enforcement agents.  The book is illustrated with gripping pictures by Nadia El Mahi.

The publication can be downloaded at

More information: Nzioki Kingola:


HIV infection and sexual behaviour in primary and secondary infertile relationships

A case-control study in Kigali, Rwanda compares the prevalence of sexually transmitted infections (including HIV) and of high-risk sexual behaviour in primary infertile relationships, secondary infertile relationships and fertile relationships.

Sexually active infertile women aged 21-45?years presenting at an infertility clinic of the Kigali Teaching Hospital, Rwanda and their male partners were invited to participate. Fertile controls who had recently delivered were recruited from the community. In a face-to-face interview, participants were asked about sociodemographic characteristics and their sexual behaviours, and tested for HIV and STIs. Between November 2007 and May 2009, 312 women and 254 partners in infertile relationships and 312 women and 189 partners in fertile relationships were enrolled. Involvement in a secondary infertile relationship was associated with HIV infection after adjusting for sociodemographic covariates for women and for men. Involvement in a primary infertile relationship, however, was not. Secondary infertile women were more likely to have engaged in risky sexual behaviour during their lifetime compared with primary infertile and fertile women. Men in primary and secondary infertile relationships more often reported multiple partners in the past year. As a conclusion, the authors state that increased HIV prevalence and risky sexual behaviour among infertile couples is driven by secondary infertility. Infertile couples, and especially those with secondary infertility, should be targeted for HIV prevention programmes and their fertility problems should be addressed.

HIV infection and sexual behaviour in primary and secondary infertile relationships: a case-control study in Kigali, Rwanda.Dhont N, Muvunyi C, Luchters S, Vyankandondera J, De Naeyer L, Temmerman M, van de Wijgert J. Sex Transm Infect. 2010 Sep 18. [Epub ahead of print] PMID: 20852311

Information: Nathalie Dhont,


Female genital mutilation in Belgium: results of a study on prevalence and measures for the future

The Federal Public Service Health published the results of a statistical study with an estimation of the number of women with female genital mutilation (FGM) and the number of girls at risk of being subjected to FGM, living in Belgium.

This study has been done by the Institute of Tropical Medicine in Antwerp in collaboration with a monitoring commission (International Centre for Reproductive Health (Els Leye), WIV, ONE, Kind & Gezin, Commissariaat Generaal Vluchtelingen en Staatlozen, Fedasil). The study was the second prevalence study (a first one was done by ICRH in 2003), contains current statistics regarding this subject and shows the important need for prevention (to protect girls at risk) and medical/social treatment (women with FGM) in Belgium. 

This study estimates the number of women and girls from countries where FGM is prevalent, at 22.840. Of these 22.840, 6.260 are most probably mutilated while 1.975 are at risk of being subjected to FGM (data January 1, 2008). Moreover, the number of women with (most probably) FGM that deliver is increasing: over the past decade, their number tripled and is estimated at 600 in the year 2007. During delivery, complications due to FGM can vary according to the type of FGM.

The Dutch version of the study can be downloaded at

The French version can be downloaded at

More information: