Rape and Domestic Violence: The law criminalizes rape or forcible sexual assault, and penalties range from three years to life in prison. The law also criminalizes spousal rape.
Rape remained a problem, but there were no specific government activities to combat rape. During the year prosecutors initiated 260 criminal cases of rape, which represented 19 percent fewer cases than in 2010. Of these, 56 were dismissed and 124 were forwarded to courts for trial. NGOs maintained that many rapes remained unreported.
The law defines domestic violence as a criminal offense, provides for the punishment of perpetrators, defines mechanisms for obtaining restraining orders against abusive individuals, and extends protection to unmarried individuals and children of unmarried individuals. Seventeen individuals convicted of family violence offenses were serving sentences in penitentiaries. The maximum punishment for family violence offenses is 15 years’ imprisonment. There were reportedly 340 cases of family violence during the year.
The law provides that an abuser may be excluded from lodgings shared with the victim, regardless of who owns the property. The law also provides for psychiatric evaluation and counseling, forbids abusers from approaching victims either at home or at a place of business, and restricts child visitation rights pending a criminal investigation. Courts may apply such protective measures for a period of three months and can extend them upon the victim’s request or following repeated acts of violence.
Real progress in protecting women and children against domestic violence was slow. According to various NGOs and UNICEF, the issuance of protective orders and the effectiveness of their implementation were heavily dependent on the attitude of the authorities. There were numerous reports that police officers were not diligent in ensuring either proper protection of victims or proper execution of the measures prescribed by the orders.
On March 16, Lilia Eremia, from the village of Valcinet in northern Moldova, filed a complaint with the ECHR against the government, accusing it of inhumane treatment and gender discrimination in access to police protection. Eremia had requested a protection order for herself and her two daughters, which, although issued, was allegedly not enforced by police; subsequent requests for protection addressed to the Prosecutor General’s Office and the Ministry of Interior were unanswered, allegedly because the abuser was a police officer.
According to NGOs, problems with the protection of victims of domestic violence included delays in issuing protective orders, improper enforcement of protective orders by police, and excessive reliance by authorities on NGOs to publicize available remedies and assist victims in requesting protection. NGOs expressed concern that the prosecutor general was insufficiently proactive in combating indifferent attitudes towards domestic violence among police, prosecutors, and social workers.
The law also provides for cooperation between government and civil society organizations, establishes the protection of the victim as a human rights principle, and allows third parties to file complaints on behalf of victims. According to a 2009 report by the local NGO La Strada, there were no government standards regarding the quality of victim support services or for the identification, assessment, or monitoring of domestic violence cases.
A 2010 study by the Joint UN Program on HIV/AIDS found that 51.3 percent of women in a relationship had experienced psychological abuse in their lifetime. A total of 24.2 percent had experienced physical violence, and 10.3 percent had experienced it in the previous 12 months. Slightly more than 12 percent had experienced sexual violence (7.1 percent in the preceding year). Rural women experienced violence in significantly higher proportions than urban women, and younger women (roughly under 30) experienced more emotional and sexual violence than older women.
Victims of domestic violence generally suffered in silence, as the problem received little recognition from government or society as a whole. Surveys indicated that only 11.2 percent of domestic violence victims sought medical assistance, only 12.2 percent reported the abuse to the police, 6.3 percent pursued claims through the justice system, and 5.1 percent reported abuse to other municipal authorities. NGOs asserted that one reason women rarely reported domestic violence to authorities stemmed from the weakness of available legal remedies, which commonly consisted of fines and brief detentions for convicted abusers. After their release from detention, abusers commonly returned to their homes and continued the abuse. Fines often had the effect of significantly reducing the overall household budget, further harming the wives and children of abusers. Victims of domestic violence were also reluctant to come forward because of frequent economic dependence on their abusers, particularly if the family had children.
According to the Ministry of Interior, between January and July, authorities registered 310 cases of crimes against family and children. Women’s groups asserted that incidents of spousal abuse were significantly underreported.
The government supported educational efforts, usually undertaken with foreign assistance, to increase public awareness of domestic violence and to instruct the public and law enforcement officials on how to address the problem. The city of Chisinau operated a women’s shelter for domestic violence victims. Private organizations operated services for abused spouses, including a hotline for battered women. Access to such assistance remained difficult for some.
The NGO La Strada operated a hotline to report domestic violence, offered victims psychological and legal aid, and provided victims with options for follow-up assistance. During the first nine months of the year, the hotline received 716 calls related to domestic violence, 333 calls were from victims seeking assistance, and the rest from neighbors, relatives, community groups, and professionals; five calls from abusers were also reported. Despite the hotline’s success, La Strada representatives noted that few victims requested follow-up assistance, and in only 40 cases did the victims ultimately receive either counseling or a protective order.
In Transnistria the law does not prohibit violence against women, and domestic violence was a serious problem although the extent was difficult to estimate. According to a study during the year, 35.7 percent of women in Transnistria experienced physical domestic violence, 22 percent were beaten by their current husband/partner, 10.7 percent were beaten publicly, and 5.2 percent were sexually abused by their partner.
Sexual Harassment: Sexual harassment remained a common problem. The law provides criminal penalties for sexual harassment ranging from a fine to a maximum of two years’ imprisonment. The law prohibits sexual advances that affect a person’s dignity or create an unpleasant, hostile, degrading, or humiliating environment in a workplace or educational institution. However, there were no reports that authorities conducted any criminal investigations or prosecutions under this provision of the law.
Reproductive Rights: Couples and individuals could decide freely and responsibly the number, spacing, and timing of their children and had the information and means to do so free from discrimination, coercion, and violence. The government adopted laws and implemented policies to ensure free obstetric and postpartum care to all citizens. Mandatory government medical insurance covered all expenses related to pregnancy, birth, and postpartum care. During pregnancy the government provided essential medicines free of charge. Most medical institutions, both state and private, had free booklets and leaflets about family planning and contraception. IDOM reported instances of discrimination against HIV-positive women, as well as the disclosure of their status by medical personnel. Six cases of maternal mortality were registered during the year. In four cases, the women did not avail themselves of government-provided prenatal care.
There were no reports of Romani women being denied obstetrical, childbirth, or postpartum care. However, many Romani women failed to take advantage of free government-administered medical care during pregnancy. There was no reliable information on their access to contraception.
Discrimination: The law provides for gender equality. The National Bureau of Statistics reported that women experienced higher levels of employment than men. According to one foreign government-sponsored assessment during the year, women’s earnings were 73.3 percent those of men, and the earnings gap persisted even in economic sectors in which women predominated.
In some cases, especially in rural areas, women encountered attitudes and stereotypes that perpetuated the subordinate position of women in the family and in society.