Rape and Domestic Violence: The law criminalizes rape or forcible sexual assault and establishes penalties for violations 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 seven months of the year, prosecutors initiated 197 criminal cases of rape, a 9 percent increase from 2013. Of these, 30 were dismissed and 114 were forwarded to the courts for trial. NGOs maintained that many rapes were unreported due to social stigma and a lengthy and often corrupt judicial process. Police reportedly used poor investigative techniques and often mishandled rape cases, which discouraged survivor cooperation. There was an increase in reports of gang rapes during the year. In some instances officials involved in prosecutions blamed the survivors, a practice pervasive on all levels of the justice system. Police officers, prosecutors, and judges often blamed the survivor when dismissing a case or acquitting the rapist, often after receiving a bribe. Local authorities engaged in public survivor-blaming on several occasions during the year. In one instance the mayor of the village of Hansca, Ialoveni Region, publicly accused a survivor of a gang-rape of “dressing provocatively” and being “intoxicated” and therefore responsible for the rape.
Rape remained a crime with a low rate of effective police investigation, as charges were mainly based on survivor testimony, and law enforcement officers generally used a confrontation (face-to-face interview) with the rapist to verify the survivor’s statement. Survivors were frequently traumatized by the experience, and few managed to maintain their testimony under such conditions.
In the first seven months of the year, police registered 1,176 cases of domestic violence, almost twice the number for the same period in 2013. Of these, 679 cases were sent to trial and 36 were dismissed. The increase in domestic violence registered by police reflected an improvement in the law enforcement response to the problem. According to a Promo-Lex report, every seventh woman in rural areas experienced at least one act of physical violence in her lifetime. During the year police registered 22 murders and five suicides stemming from domestic violence. During her April visit, the UN deputy high commissioner for human rights, Flavia Pansieri, noted the country has taken important steps to combat violence against women, including domestic violence, rape, and sex trafficking.
Domestic violence investigations remained problematic when police officers themselves were the aggressors. In such cases law enforcement officers tended to side with the aggressor, and the victim was forced to appeal to the ECHR. The process was lengthy, and authorities did not protect victims from their abusers during the trial.
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 may extend them upon the victim’s request or following repeated acts of violence.
During the year the Drochia trial court sentenced abusers in domestic violence cases to compulsory rehabilitation and counseling at the local rehabilitation center. The court sent more than 30 abusers to the rehabilitation program.
Progress in protecting women and children against domestic violence was slow. The Ministry of Internal Affairs undertook a series of reforms, including increased training for police officers handling domestic violence cases. According to various NGOs and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the issuance of protective orders and the effectiveness of their implementation depended 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 measures prescribed by protective orders. NGOs maintained authorities relied excessively on NGOs to publicize available remedies and assist victims in requesting protection. The situation improved 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. During the year the Ministry of Labor, Social Protection, and Family organized a public campaign, 16 Days against Violence, to raise awareness.
NGOs reported cases in which authorities issued conflicting protective orders, providing both the abuser and the victim with protection against the other and resulting in confusion in courts.
According to NGO reports, authorities issued only 1-2 percent of all protective orders within 24 hours as required by law. In most cases abusers continued their mistreatment undeterred. There were reported cases of protective orders being issued one month after mistreatment reportedly occurred.
According to a Promo-Lex report, social workers and police were not fully aware of domestic violence laws, and 44 percent of social workers and 20 percent of police officers did not know how to respond to domestic violence. While courts increased the number of protective orders issued, police did not always implement such orders effectively. Observers stated the police approach to domestic violence improved slightly, but judges and prosecutors often failed to take the crimes seriously. Protection order violations continued to be classified as administrative infractions, which meant no criminal proceedings could be opened against offenders 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 to 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 frequently reluctant to come forward because of 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 provided 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 eight months of the year, the hotline received 1,861 calls related 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 a 2013survey in Transnistria, approximately 22 percent of women reported having been subjected to physical violence, 36 percent reported experiencing physical violence from their partners at least once, while 60 percent reported instances of psychological violence. Most victims of domestic violence did not file complaints with police.
Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C): The law does not prohibit FGM/C. There were no reports of FGM/C during the year.
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. According to NGOs, law enforcement agencies steadily improved their handling of sexual harassment cases, such as by addressing harassment of students by university professors and several instances of workplace harassment.
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 and the right to attain the highest standard of reproductive care 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.
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.
Women in psychiatric institutions and social care homes lacked access to contraceptives.
Discrimination: The law provides for women to enjoy the same legal status as men under family law, labor law, property law, and inheritance law, and in the judicial system. The law requires equal pay for equal work, which was mostly respected during the year. The National Bureau of Statistics reported almost equal proportion of men and women employed by midyear, 50.5 percent and 49.5 percent, respectively.