600.000 women in Romania are victims of sexual violence throughout their lives (1). However, gaps in legislation and the lack of adequate, accessible and free services pushes them towards silence and hinders their access to justice. This results in sexual violence being one of the least reported and convicted crimes.
In Romania, there are no Sexual Assault Referral Centres or specialized units for victims of sexual violence within the emergency departments of hospitals, whereas specialised services are rarely accessible, adequate or free. The burden falls on the victims, who have to contact various institutions and specialists, undergo complicated procedures and give various statements. The lack of a focal point of information, the high costs, the long waiting time, together with the lack of protection from intimidation or harassment from the perpetrators drive many victims to not file a criminal complaint or withdraw it.
The solution for victims is the creation of Sexual Assault Referral Centres (SARCs), in a separate room of the emergency department of county hospitals and in Bucharest, respectively, which would:
These centres correspond to the Romanian state’s obligations, as stated in The Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (Istanbul Convention), as well as EU Directive 29/2012 on the protection of victims of crime.
(1) FRA – European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, Violence against women: an EU-wide survey. Main results, 2014.
INITIATOR: Breaking the Silence on Sexual Violence
ADDRESSEE: Ms. Raluca Prună – Minister of Justice, Mr. Patriciu-Andrei Achimaș-Cadariu – Minister of Health
Dear Ms. Minister of Justice, Dear Mr. Minister of Health,
The numerous cases of rape which have shocked public opinion are proof that sexual assault is not a bygone practice of a dark past, but rather the tragic present reality which affects c. 600,000 women in Romania throughout their lives.
I believe the state does not offer victims of sexual violence the support and protection they need in order to overcome the trauma and ensure their access to justice. Most of the times, the lack of adequate and free services forces victims into silence and reinforces a culture of low reporting of sexual violence, which means that, in most cases, perpetrators are not convicted and remain free to assault again.
On behalf of all victims of sexual violence, I ask you to ensure that the Istanbul Convention and the Directive 29/2012 on the protection of victims of crime are correctly implemented and transposed into internal legislation, by taking into account the victims’ needs. I especially support the creation of Sexual Assault Referral Centres, which would offer victims medical aid, forensic examination, psychological counseling, legal aid and refer them to other specialised services and which would function within the emergency departments of each county and in Bucharest, respectively.
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