Rape and Domestic Violence: The law criminalizes rape or forcible sexual assault and establishes penalties ranging from three years to life in prison. The law also criminalizes spousal rape.
Rape remained a problem, and there were no specific government rape prevention activities. During the first six months of the year, prosecutors initiated 160 criminal cases of rape, representing a 19-percent decline in cases from 2011. Of these, 33 cases were dismissed and 52 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. The maximum punishment for family violence offenses is 15 years’ imprisonment.
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.
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 depended heavily on the attitude of 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 protective orders. According to NGOs, authorities were excessively reliant on NGOs to publicize available remedies and assist victims in requesting protection. However, the situation was slowly improving with the timely issuance of an increased number of protective orders. NGOs expressed concern that authorities were insufficiently proactive in combating indifferent attitudes towards domestic violence among police, prosecutors, and social workers.
NGOs reported cases of authorities failing to provide protection for abuse victims and even going as far as helping the aggressor obtain a protective order against the victim. NGOs alleged that authorities did this deliberately in some cases to discredit the victim and shield authorities if the victim appealed to the ECHR.
Authorities repeatedly refused to protect a woman, the victim of long-term domestic violence with well documented injuries, from her violent husband, even after he punched her in the face in the presence of a police officer. A judge threatened to punish her if she continued applying for protective orders, and a social worker advised her “to start treating her husband right if she knew what was good for her and her family.” An NGO involved with the case alleged that police officers instructed her abuser on how to injure himself and obtain a medical certificate of his injuries in order to acquire a protective order of his own and portray the victim as a violent person. Authorities questioned the woman’s minor son in the presence of the aggressor and demanded the boy give testimony in the case. At the time of the report, the woman and her husband each had protective orders against the other, but continued to live in the same house, since the case was pending before the ECHR.
The law provides for cooperation between government and civil society organizations, establishes victim protection as a human rights principle, and allows third parties to file complaints on behalf of victims.
A National Bureau of Statistics report during the year--based on a joint UN Women, Embassy of Sweden, UN Development Program, and UN Population Fund study-- described domestic violence as widespread. The study found that 63.4 percent of women ages 15 and older experienced some form of domestic abuse in their lifetime, including 40 percent who had been physically abused. Rural women experienced violence in significantly higher proportions than urban women, and younger women (under the age of 30) experienced more emotional and sexual violence than older women.
Victims of domestic violence generally suffered in silence, since 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 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 stemmed from unsuccessful previous attempts to seek protection and justice. Such attempts often failed due to unresponsive officials and judgmental attitudes from police, prosecutors, judges, and social workers. Punishment of convicted abusers was often insufficient, commonly consisting of fines and brief detentions, and failed to prevent repeated abuse. In one case an abuser was sentenced to 12 years in prison for attempted murder only after he tried to set his victim on fire, despite having abused her for several years without meaningful intervention by authorities.
After their release from detention, abusers commonly returned to their homes and continued the abuse. Fines often had the effect of significantly reducing overall household income, 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 Internal Affairs, 394 cases of violent crimes against family and children were reported in the first six months of the year. 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 how to address the problem. 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. Between October 2011 and July, the hotline received 540 calls related to domestic violence, 387 from victims seeking assistance and the rest from neighbors, relatives, community groups, and professionals. The hotline also reported 17 calls from abusers. In 18 cases the abuser was an active duty or retired police officer. NGOs alleged that these cases were the hardest to resolve due to authorities’ reluctance to investigate and punish police officers. NGOs report that many victims of trafficking are first subjected to domestic violence.
In Transnistria the law does not prohibit violence against women, and the extent of domestic violence was difficult to estimate. While information on the phenomenon is scarce, a 2011 study indicated that 35.7 percent of women in Transnistria experienced physical domestic violence, 22 percent were beaten by their current husband or 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. In July the head of the State Hydrometeorological Service, Ilie Boian, was videotaped sexually harassing an employee. He was dismissed, and the Ministry of Internal Affairs filed two criminal charges of sexual harassment against him.
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. The NGO Moldovan Institute for Human Rights (IDOM) reported instances of discrimination against HIV-positive women, as well as the disclosure of their status by medical personnel.
There were no reports of Romani women being denied obstetrical, childbirth, or postpartum care. However, many Romani women did not take advantage of free government-administered medical care during pregnancy.
Discrimination: The law provides that women enjoy the same legal status as men under family law, labor law, property law, and inheritance law; and in the judicial system. The National Bureau of Statistics reported that a higher proportion of women than men were employed.
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.