Rape and Domestic Violence: Rape, including spousal rape, is illegal. The law provides for three to 10 years’ imprisonment for rape and two to seven years’ imprisonment for sexual assault. If there are no aggravating circumstances and the attack did not lead to death, police and prosecutors may not pursue a case on their own, but they require a victim’s complaint, even if there is independent physical evidence. As a consequence the perpetrator of a sexual assault can avoid punishment if the victim withdraws the complaint.
The criminal code classifies family violence as a separate offense and stipulates that when murder, battery, or other serious violence is committed against a family member, the penalty is increased by one-quarter of what it would have been otherwise. The code also states that, if the parties reconcile, criminal liability is removed.
Violence against women, including spousal abuse, continued to be a serious problem that the government did not effectively address. The law provides for the issuance of restraining orders by a court for a maximum of six months upon the victim’s request or at the request of a prosecutor, the state representative in charge of protecting victims of family violence, or, if the victim agrees, a social service provider. Violation of a restraining order is punishable by imprisonment for one month to one year. If the parties reconcile, criminal liability is removed. The court may also order the abuser to undergo psychological counselling. Restraining orders, shelters, and other services are not available to victims of violence who may be in relationships but do not cohabit with alleged abusers. The FILIA Center for Gender Studies and Curriculum Development–an NGO that aims to promote gender equality–stated that police lacked procedures for the implementation and monitoring of restraining orders.
While the law imposes stronger sanctions for violent offenses committed against family members than for similar offenses committed against others, the courts prosecuted very few cases of domestic abuse. Many cases were resolved before or during trial when the alleged victims dropped their charges or reconciled with the alleged abuser.
According to a FILIA center report issued during the year, women who wanted to leave an abusive relationship sometimes faced an additional obstacle when public authorities blamed them for domestic violence. The authors also found that Romani women who wanted to request social assistance in cases of domestic violence faced racist prejudice on the part of local authorities. Lawyers interviewed by the report’s authors said police sought to avoid the filing of criminal cases related to domestic violence. Prosecutors dropped criminal prosecution in less severe cases, asserting that the damage is too small to justify further prosecutorial measures.
Sexual Harassment: The law prohibits sexual harassment, which it defines as repeatedly asking for sexual favors in a work or similar relationship. A victim complaint is necessary to initiate a criminal investigation. Penalties range from fines to imprisonment of three months to one year.
Coercion in Population Control: There were no reports of coerced abortion, involuntary sterilization, or other coercive population control methods. Estimates on maternal mortality and contraceptive prevalence are available at: www.who.int/reproductivehealth/publications/monitoring/maternal-mortality-2015/en/ .
Discrimination: Under the law women and men enjoy equal rights. Women experienced discrimination in marriage, divorce, child custody, employment, credit, pay, owning or managing businesses or property, education, the judicial process, and housing. The law requires equal pay for equal work, but there was a 4.5 percent gender pay gap, according to EU data. Segregation by profession existed, with women overrepresented in lower-paying jobs. There were reports of discrimination in employment.
Birth Registration: Children derive citizenship by birth from at least one citizen parent. Although birth registration is mandatory by law, it was not universal, and authorities denied some children public services as a result. Most unregistered children had access to schools, and authorities assisted in obtaining birth documents for unregistered children, but the education of unregistered children depended on the decision of school authorities. The law provides simplified birth registration for children whose mothers do not have proper documentation to register their children.
Child Abuse: Child abuse and neglect continued to be serious problems. The media reported several severe cases of abuse or neglect in family homes, foster care, and child welfare institutions. The government has not established a mechanism to identify and treat abused and neglected children and their families.
In March the European Center for the Rights of Children with Disabilities notified prosecutors, the ombudsman, and the National Authority for the Protection of Children’s Rights that, according to video footage in their possession, children enrolled in a special school in Bucharest were systematically beaten by teachers, tied with ropes, and subjected to emotional abuse. According to official data, during 2016 there were 14,323 cases of abuse, neglect, and exploitation of children recorded by child protection services throughout the country. According to statistics provided by the Ministry of Labor and Social Justice, in 2016 criminal prosecution was initiated in 719 of these cases. In the first half of the year, the Ministry of Internal Affairs recorded 5,300 criminal complaints about offenses committed against underage persons.
Early and Forced Marriage: The legal age of marriage is 18 for both men and women, but the law permits minors as young as 16 to marry under certain circumstances. Illegal child marriage was reportedly common in certain social groups, particularly among some Romani communities. Child protection authorities did not always intervene in such cases. There were no public policies to discourage child marriage.
Sexual Exploitation of Children: The law provides one- to 10-year prison sentences for persons convicted of sexual acts with minors, depending on the circumstances and the child’s age. Sexual intercourse with a minor who is 13 to 15 years of age is punishable by a one- to five-year prison sentence. Sexual intercourse with a person under the age of 13 is punishable by a two- to seven-year prison sentence and deprivation of some rights. The law also criminalizes sexual corruption of minors (which includes subjecting minors to sexual acts other than intercourse or forcing minors to perform such acts), luring minors for sexual purposes or child prostitution, and trafficking in minors. Pimping and pandering that involve minors increase sentences by one-half. According to statistics provided by the Ministry of Internal Affairs, as of September criminal prosecution was started in 959 of the 2,977 cases concerning different types of sexual abuse against children recorded in 2016.
Child pornography is a separate offense and carries a sentence, depending on the circumstances, of up to seven years’ imprisonment, which may be increased by one-third if the perpetrator was a family member or someone in whose care the child was trusted, or if the life of the child victim was endangered. During the year through September, 79 cases of child pornography had been resolved through indictment or plea bargain.
Institutionalized Children: During the year there were several media reports of abuses in placement centers for institutionalized children. The ombudsperson opened an investigation into the alleged sexual abuse of a 17-year-old child by an employee of the placement center in Brasov. According to media reports, the investigation revealed that physical abuse occurred in the center and that some of the children were also affected by substance abuse. In September 2016 prosecutors indicted members of an organized crime network who were recruiting girls from orphanages in Iasi for sexual exploitation. As of October 31, the case was pending before the Iasi Tribunal.
By law unaccompanied migrant children are housed in placement centers, where they have access to education and benefits other children receive. The detention of families with children is allowed by law, with preservation of family unity used as justification. Several such cases were recorded during the year.
International Child Abductions: The country is a party to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. See the Department of State’s Annual Report on International Parental Child Abduction at travel.state.gov/content/childabduction/en/legal/compliance.html.
According to the 2011 census, the Jewish population numbered 3,271. Acts of anti-Semitism occurred during the year.
The law prohibits public denial of the Holocaust and fascist, racist, and xenophobic language and symbols, including organizations and symbols associated with the indigenous Legionnaire interwar fascist movement. The oppression of Roma as well as Jews is included in the definition of the Holocaust. In the first half of 2016, out of 12 cases brought pertaining to this law, prosecutors dismissed 11 and waived criminal prosecution in the remaining case.
Streets, organizations, and even schools or libraries continued to be named after persons convicted for war crimes or crimes against humanity, according to the Elie Wiesel Institute for the Study of the Holocaust in Romania. Local authorities continued to allow busts and statues depicting persons convicted for war crimes. Radu Gyr was a commander and anti-Semitic ideologist of the Legionnaire movement convicted of war crimes. The Wiesel Institute requested the renaming of Radu Gyr street in Cluj-Napoca. As of December the local government had not changed the name of the street. Mircea Vulcanescu was a cabinet member in the government of WWII leader Ion Antonescu and a convicted war criminal who, according to the Wiesel Institute, supported anti-Semitic policies. Nevertheless, the committee for renaming streets within the Bucharest prefect’s office recommended against the renaming of Mircea Vulcanescu street. The Wiesel Institute stated that officials of the Romanian Orthodox Church made several statements that praised members of the Legionnaire movement and persons convicted for war crimes.
Material promoting anti-Semitic views and glorifying Legionnaires also appeared in media, including on the internet. According to a report published by the Wiesel Institute, considerable numbers of users and groups on social media in the country advocated extermination of Jews or other violent acts.
In April vandals destroyed 10 tombstones in a Jewish cemetery in Bucharest. Police identified three underage persons who were allegedly responsible for the crime and stated they had acted without any specific reason. As of September the case was pending before the Prosecutor’s Office.
In May the Bratianu Foundation in Bucharest hosted the launch of an anti-Semitic book, The Nazi Zionism, by retired general Radu Theodoru. The Center for Monitoring and Combating Anti-Semitism informed the prosecutor’s and mayor’s offices of the launch before the event took place, but authorities did not interfere with it.
In June the Jewish community in Cluj-Napoca notified police of anti-Semitic and Holocaust denial messages painted on the exterior wall of the Memorial Temple of Deported Jews synagogue in the city. According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as of December the case was pending before the court in Cluj-Napoca.
A survey by Kantar TNS, commissioned by the Wiesel Institute and released in October, found that, while 68 percent of the 1,014 adults surveyed had heard of the Holocaust, only 41 percent believed the Holocaust had occurred in the country. Approximately 55 percent of the respondents blamed the Holocaust on Nazi Germany, while 22 percent considered the wartime government of general Ion Antonescu responsible. Of the respondents, 44 percent considered Antonescu a hero.
While not explicitly anti-Semitic, verbal attacks during the year holding a foreign Jewish philanthropist responsible for domestic problems had anti-Semitic connotations. Politicians and the media ascribed negative actions to him, such as controlling an “invisible army” and paying for activities of opposition parties.
The government continued to implement the recommendations of the 2004 International Commission on the Holocaust in Romania Report. High-level officials, such as the president, made public statements against anti-Semitism. The Wiesel Institute continued to organize training courses for teachers and other professionals on the history of the Holocaust. The general mayor’s office of Bucharest and the city council loaned a building to the institute to house a museum on Jewish history.
The Education Ministry did not include a mandatory class on the Holocaust as part of the general history curricula. The high school course History of the Jews–The Holocaust was optional. During the 2016-17 school year, 2,894 pupils from 75 schools took the course.
On May 25, the government adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s working definition of anti-Semitism. The definition is to be included in the national legal framework, and relevant ministries, such as Justice, Internal Affairs, and Education, are to include the definition in training programs and civic education curriculum.
Trafficking in Persons
See the Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Report at www.state.gov/j/tip/rls/tiprpt/.
Persons with Disabilities
The law prohibits discrimination against persons with physical, sensory, intellectual, and mental disabilities. The government did not fully implement the law, and discrimination against persons with disabilities remained a problem.
The law mandates that buildings and public transportation be accessible for persons with disabilities. The country continued to have an insufficient number of facilities specifically designed to accommodate persons with disabilities who could have extreme difficulty navigating city streets or gaining access to public buildings. Persons with disabilities reported a lack of access ramps, adapted public transportation, and adapted toilets in major buildings.
Discrimination against children with disabilities in education was a widespread problem due to lack of adequate teacher training on inclusion of children with disabilities and lack of investment to make schools accessible. Most children with disabilities were either placed in special schools or not placed in school.In May the Antidiscrimination Council fined a teacher and the directors of Petre Tutea School in Galati for their treatment of a girl with Asperger’s syndrome.
Since 2016 the Center for Legal Resources (CRJ) made unannounced visits to centers for persons with disabilities or psychiatric sections. During the visits the NGO identified a series of problems, including verbal and physical abuse of children, sedation, excessive use of physical restraints, lack of hygiene, inadequate living conditions, and lack of adequate medical care. The CRJ also noted problems including a general shortage of staff, a chronic shortage of specialized staff, reliance on psychiatric medication as the sole treatment solution, segregation from communities, lack of access to education, absence of a complaints mechanism, and a lack of community living options.
The National Authority for the Protection of Persons with Disabilities, under the labor ministry, coordinated services for persons with disabilities and drafted policies, strategies, and standards in the field of disabilities rights.
Discrimination against Roma continued to be a major problem. Romani groups complained that police harassment and brutality, including beatings, were routine. Both domestic and international media and observers reported societal discrimination against Roma. NGOs reported that Roma were denied access to, or refused service in, many public places. Roma also experienced poor access to government services, a shortage of employment opportunities, high rates of school attrition, and inadequate health care. A lack of identity documents excluded many Roma from participating in elections, receiving social benefits, accessing health insurance, securing property documents, and participating in the labor market. Roma had a higher unemployment rate and a lower life expectancy than non-Roma. Negative stereotypes and discriminatory language regarding Roma were widespread.
Despite an order by the Ministry of Education forbidding segregation of Romani students, segregation along ethnic lines persisted. In March a house, annex, outbuildings, and agricultural storage belonging to Roma were burned and destroyed in the city of Gheorgheni as revenge for an alleged theft that took place earlier that same week. The media reported that, prior to the arson, local police noticed mobs moving towards the area where Roma lived in the city and observed several groups shouting anti-Roma statements. Romani activists claimed the attackers used social media to organize the attacks. Following the incidents, the Gheorgheni mayor made anti-Roma statements and blamed Roma for triggering the attack on their homes. As of December an investigation was pending before the prosecutor’s office attached to the Harghita Tribunal. Forced evictions of Roma continued to be a problem. In February local authorities evicted several Romani families from a building located in Bucharest with no advance notice.
Ethnic Hungarians continued to report discrimination related mainly to the use of the Hungarian language. The law provides that, where a group speaking a minority language is at least 20 percent of the population, they have the right to use their native language in dealings with local government. In August the Covasna County prefect objected to the use of bilingual application forms for funding provided by the county council to NGOs, churches, and sports associations. The prefect asserted that official forms in Hungarian should be available only for individuals and that the law does not apply to legal entities. There were continued reports that local authorities did not enforce the law, which states that in localities where a minority constitutes at least 20 percent of the population, road signs have to be bilingual.
Acts of Violence, Discrimination, and Other Abuses Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity
The law prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation. NGOs reported that police abuse and societal discrimination against LGBTI persons were common.
Discrimination in employment occurred against LGBTI persons. On May 20, a pride parade with more than 2,000 participants took place without incident in Bucharest. Before the event approximately 100 persons took part in a counterprotest. Several individuals in the Piata Unirii subway station physically attacked a person wearing rainbow-colored suspenders who was heading to the pride parade. The media reported that police tried to discourage him from filing a complaint. ACCEPT, an NGO that promoted LGBTI rights, reported that a transgender woman who wanted to complain about the violent behavior of a neighbor faced discrimination by the Bucharest police. Complaints concerning the behavior of police were filed with the National Council for Combatting Discrimination and the Bucharest police inspectorate.
The law governing the ability of transgender persons to change their identity was vague and incomplete. In some cases authorities denied recognition of a change in identity unless a sex-reassignment intervention had occurred. There were reports of transgender persons facing particular difficulties accessing health care because doctors had very limited knowledge about transgender issues and, consequently, did not know how to treat transgender patients. Access to adequate psychological services was also limited because there were few specialists with the knowledge and expertise to deal with transgender issues, while others refused to accept transgender patients.
HIV and AIDS Social Stigma
Although the law provides that HIV-infected persons have the right to confidentiality and adequate treatment, authorities rarely enforced it. Authorities did not adopt regulations that were necessary to provide confidentiality and fair treatment, and discrimination against persons with HIV/AIDS impeded access to routine medical and dental care.
Promotion of Acts of Discrimination
Throughout the year some local government officials made statements that contributed to ethnic stereotyping of Roma. Public figures, politicians, and supporters of the Coalition for Family made discriminatory remarks concerning the LGBTI community. Some members of parliament made offending or discriminatory comments about women.