The Conclusions of the Conference “Sexual Violence: Challenges and Solutions in the Context of the Ratification of the Istanbul Convention” – Febr. 23, 2016

Bucharest, Febr. 24, 2016 –  The nongovernmental organisations members of the national network Breaking the Silence on Sexual Violence organised yesterday, February 23, 2016, a conference regarding the protection of victims of sexual violence and the Romanian state’s obligations in the area of gender-based violence. 

The Conference “Sexual Violence: Challenges and Solutions in the Context of the Ratification of the Istanbul Convention” underlined the need for Romania to adopt international standards regarding the legal definitions and policies aimed at preventing and combating gender-based violence, as stated by the Istanbul Convention.

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In Romania at least 600,000 women experience sexual violence throughout their lives (FRA, 2014[1]). However, there are no free specialized services for victims (psychological counselling, legal aid, etc.), which are not conditioned by a criminal complaint.

Ms. Rosa Logar, vice-president of GREVIO, Council of Europe (Group of Experts on Action against Violence against Women and Domestic Violence), key speaker at the conference, presented the role of the Istanbul Convention in preventing violence and protecting the victims. “I congratulate Romania and the work group for their initiative to create Sexual Assault Referral Centres. Article 25 of the Istanbul Convention clearly states the necessity to create such centres, which offer integrated services […]. It is important for a victim to have access to specialized services but in the same time to remain anonymous. These services are a good investment for our health and for society”, said Ms. Logar.

Ms. Logar also stated that in the case of Austria, these specialize services are offered by NGOs, but are 100% financed by the state.

Ms. Alexandra Columban, Equality and Human Rights Action Centre – ACTEDO, presented the network’s proposal for the creation of Sexual Assault Referral Centres in Romania, which would function within the emergency units of county hospitals: “Currently, the victim has to visit several different institutions, where she encounters multiple barriers in reporting the abuse, including the fact that the biological evidence is not collected on the spot and it is not free! For the services for victims of sexual violence to function, they must be integrated and based on the collaboration of several governmental sectors and institutions, such as the Ministry of Health, of Justice, the Police, NGOs and social services. We have launched a petition for the creation of these centres and we encourage everybody to sign it!” 

The petition can be accessed here: http://facem.de-clic.ro/rupem_tacerea

Ms. Camelia Proca, Association for Liberty and Equality of Gender (A.L.E.G.), talked from the organisation’s experience in offering psychological counselling to victims of sexual violence: “Currently, the victim must first of all prove that she is victim and only afterwards does she have access to services. In addition, these services should be confidential, but I have seen how many institutions offer counseling with several other people present in the same room with the victim. […] This is not how things should be done”.

Mr. Cristi Danileț, judge at the Superior Council for Magistracy (SCM) underlined that Judge Corina Voicu of the same institution was currently working on a draft bill for the creation of Sexual Assault Referral Centres. “We do not want to see the same approach as we witnessed with the rape case in Vaslui. SCM has initiated an investigation of the courts involved in the case. […] On March 14th we will meet again with the cross-sectorial work group and I want us by then to have a draft for the integrated centres to work on”, said Judge Danileț.

Deputy Ana Birchall talked about her involvement in the ratification of the Istanbul Convention and expressed her support in the creation of the Sexual Assault Referral Centres. She also announced that she would be defending the ratification of the Istanbul Convention in the Senate on February 29th.

Ms. Monalisa Cârstea, director of the National Agency for Gender Equality, presented the accomplishments of the institution in developing existing services and insisted on the necessity for collaboration among governmental and nongovernmental bodies involved in the ratification of the Istanbul Convention.

Dr. Daniel Verman, Superior Counselor pf the General Department of Medical Assistance and Public Health, Ministry of Health, presented the network of community nurses and sanitary mediators, who could have a role in promoting and integrating specialized services for victims in communities throughout the country.

The conference was moderated by Daniela Drăghici, Society of Feminist Analyses AnA, member organisation of Breaking the Silence on Sexual Violence.

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The informal Network Breaking the Silence on Sexual Violence is composed of the Centrul de Actiune pentru Egalitate si Drepturile Omului – ACTEDO (Equality and Human Rights Action Centre – ACTEDO) (coordinator), Asociatia pentru Libertate si Egalitate de Gen- A.L.E.G. (Association for Liberty and Gender Equality), Centrul FILIA (FILIA Centre), Asociatia Front, Asociatiapentru Promovarea Drepturilor Femeilor Rome E-Romnja (Association for the Promotion of the Rights of Romani Women E-Romnja), Institutul Est European pentru Sănătatea Reproducerii (East European Institute for Reproductive Health), Asociația Femeilor Împotriva Violenței AFIV -Artemis (Association of Women against Violence AFIV -Artemis), CPE – Centrul Parteneriat pentru Egalitate (Equality Partenership Centre), Societatea de Analize Feministe AnA (Society of Feminist Studies AnA), Grupul QUANTIC (QUANTIC Group), Asociația Pas Alternativ (Association Alternative Step), Asociația Psihosfera (Association Psihosphera), Centrul de Mediere și Securitate Comunitară (Centre for Mediation and Community Safety), Asociația VIVAD (Association VIVAD), Asociația Atena Delphi (Association Atena Delphi), Asociația Transcena (Association Transcena), Asociația Anais (Association Anais), Centrul Euroregional pentru Inițiative Publice (Euroregional Centre for Public Initiatives), Grupul informal “NU Înseamnă NU” (informal Group “NO Means NO”).

For more information, go to www.violentadegen.ro and www.facebook.com/rupemtacereadespreviolenta

[1]             FRA (2014) Violence against women: an EU-wide survey Main results.,  http://fra.europa.eu/sites/default/files/fra-2014-vaw-survey-main-results-apr14_en.pdf, accessed on 23.02.2016