In its first report on Romania, the Council of Europe’s GREVIO – the independent expert group that monitors implementation of the Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (Istanbul Convention) – acknowledges the steps taken by the country to comply with the treaty but identifies areas were progress is still needed.
Romania has made significant efforts towards building a legislative, policy and institutional framework to prevent and combat violence against women since it ratified the Istanbul Convention in 2016, in particular in respect of domestic violence.
These positive steps include several amendments to the domestic violence and equality laws and a National Strategy for the promotion of Equal Opportunities and Treatment of Women and Men and Preventing and Combating Violence covering the period 2018-2021. The Domestic Violence Law contains a wide definition of domestic violence – including cyber violence since 2020 – and sets up a robust protection mechanism for victims.
On the other hand, the criminal justice mechanisms for combating sexual violence, considered to the highly under-reported, face serious shortcomings. The definition of rape in the Criminal Code is not aligned with the Istanbul Convention and should be amended to fully incorporate the notion of the lack of freely given consent. In addition, the country lacks an adequate geographical distribution of fully established rape crisis or sexual violence referral centres.
GREVIO considers that more efforts are needed to collect data about violence against women, to systematically train professionals dealing with victims and to improve the response of law enforcement agencies and the judiciary to all forms of violence against women. Gender-sensitive training of judges, prosecutors and law enforcement to ensure that all instances of non-consensual sexual acts are investigated, prosecuted and sanctioned as rape or sexual violence should be a priority.
The report also recommends that the Romanian authorities improve the prosecution of forced marriage and sexual harassment, and ensure that incidents of domestic violence are taken into account when determining visitation rights.
The report, based on detailed research and a visit to the country in 2021, has been published together with the comments of the government.