Europe’s human rights watchdog says Romania has taken steps to protect women against domestic violence but still is lagging on its definition of rape.
In its first report on Romania, the Council of Europe’s GREVIO – the independent expert group that monitors implementation of the Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence, acknowledges steps taken to comply with the treaty.
It says “Romania has made significant efforts towards building a legislative, policy and institutional framework to prevent and combat violence against women since it ratified the Istanbul Convention in 2016, in particular in respect of domestic violence.”
Progress includes several amendments to domestic violence and equality laws and a National Strategy for the promotion of Equal Opportunities and Treatment of Women and Men and Preventing and Combating Violence covering the period 2018-2021.
The Domestic Violence Law contains a wide definition of domestic violence – including cyber violence since 2020 – and sets up a robust protection mechanism for victims.
However, the criminal justice mechanisms for combatting sexual violence, considered to the highly underreported, face serious shortcomings.
The Council said that the definition of rape in the Criminal Code is not aligned with the Istanbul Convention and should be amended to fully incorporate the notion of the lack of freely given consent.
Rape crisis centers
Romania also lacks countrywide fully established rape crisis or sexual violence referral centers.
“GREVIO considers that more efforts are needed to collect data about violence against women, to systematically train professionals dealing with victims and to improve the response of law enforcement agencies and the judiciary to all forms of violence against women.”
Gender-sensitive training of judges, prosecutors and law enforcement to ensure that all instances of non-consensual sexual acts are investigated, prosecuted and sanctioned as rape or sexual violence should be a priority.
The report which is based on detailed research and a visit to the country in 2021, has been published together with comments of the government.
Romanian police issued 7,000 provisional protective orders to safeguard domestic abuse victims this year