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 eight months of the year, prosecutors initiated 217 criminal cases of rape. Of these, 29 cases were dismissed and 74 forwarded to courts for trial. NGOs maintained that many rapes were unreported due to social stigma and a lengthy and often corrupt judicial process. There was an increase in reports of gang rapes during the year. In some cases officials involved in prosecutions blamed the victims.
A National Bureau of Statistics report during the year, based on a joint study supported by UN Women, the Embassy of Sweden, the UN Development Program, and the UN Population Fund, described domestic violence as widespread. The study found that 63.4 percent of women over the age of 14 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. During the year convicted abusers continued to serve short prison sentences for domestic violence.
In the first eight months of the year, police registered 818 cases of domestic violence, double the number registered during the same period in 2012. Of these, 474 cases were sent to trial and 43 were dismissed.
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 permits an abuser to be excluded from lodging 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 work, 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.
In September the Drochia Trial Court sentenced an abuser in a domestic violence case to compulsory rehabilitation and counseling at the local rehabilitation center. This was the first sentence of its kind issued in the country.
Progress in protecting women and children against domestic violence was slow. The Ministry of Internal Affairs underwent a series of reforms during the year, which included increased training for police officers to handle domestic violence cases. 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. The situation continued to improve slowly 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.
Public perception of domestic violence as a private problem persisted. Authorities generally relied on civil society to raise awareness.
NGOs reported cases in which authorities issued conflicting protection orders where both the abuser and the victim had protective orders against each other. This resulted in confusion in court.
According to NGO reports only 1-2 percent of all protective orders were issued within 24 hours as prescribed by law. In most cases the abusers continued their aggression against the victims undeterred. There were registered cases of protective orders issued one month after the aggression took place.
According to a Promo-Lex report, social workers and police officers were not fully aware of the laws on domestic violence, and 44 percent of social workers and 20 percent of police officers did not know how to respond to cases of domestic violence. While courts increased the number of protective orders, they were not always implemented effectively. Observers believed that the police’s approach to domestic violence improved slightly, but that judges and prosecutors often failed to take these crimes seriously. Protection order violations continued to be classified as administrative infractions, which meant that no criminal proceedings could be opened against the aggressors unless they violated the order on multiple occasions.
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.
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 spouses 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.
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. 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 2012, 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 reported that many victims of trafficking were first subjected to domestic violence.
In Transnistria the law does not specifically prohibit violence against women, and the extent of domestic violence was difficult to estimate. According to the results of a survey commissioned in the Transnistrian region during the year, 22.3 percent of women were subject to physical violence, 35.7 percent were subject at least once during their lifetime to physical violence from their partners, while 60.2 percent have been subject to psychological violence. Most victims of domestic violence did not file complaints with police.
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. Numerous sexual harassment cases from 2011 and 2012 continued without conclusion during the year.
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.
Although there were no reports of Romani women being denied obstetrical, childbirth, or postpartum care, 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.
Women in psychiatric institutions and social care homes suffered from forced abortions, lack of access to contraceptives, forced use of medication with side effects, and sexual abuse. During the year the ombudsman for psychiatry registered at least 16 rapes of female patients by their doctor in a Balti psychiatric institution.