Violence against women: Nationwide rally on October 23

The VIF network announces the organization, on October 23, of the “Together for Women’s Safety” March in Bucharest, Cluj, Brașov, Timișoara, Sibiu, Iași, Giurgiu, Mizil and Valea Seacă (Bacău county). The event aims to attract attention to the problem of violence against women in Romania.

Under the slogan “We are fed up with empty words, we want social services!”, the NGOs are asking the authorities to finance social assistance services for victims of gender-based violence and allocate public funds for education, training and awareness programs.

Women victims of domestic and sexual violence do not have sufficient protection from the state. Specialized social services for victims of gender-based violence are underfunded at the local and central level, and the existing ones are not sufficiently prepared to cover the needs of victims.

The organizers of the protest march request the funding of prevention programs and appropriate services for survivors of gender-based violence, mandatory funding according to Law no. 217/2003. The approach of the VIF Network organizations can be supported by signing the public petition regarding the funding of adequate services for victims of gender violence here.

Many times, victims of domestic violence are abandoned due to the lack of specialized centers. Where they exist, girls and women are ridiculed or even doubly traumatized by some staff of the institutions. The lack of training programs, but also misogynist, racist, homophobic or classist mentalities contribute to the victim’s isolation and her return to the abusive relationship.

While specialized public services in the field of gender-based violence are extremely poor, the number of cases of violence reported to the police is increasing year by year. In the first half of 2022, there were over 40,000 cases of domestic violence in which the police intervened, of which over 9,400 were situations of imminent risk.

The NGOs accuse that some magistrates continue to downplay the seriousness of acts of violence against women and girls and find excuses for perpetrators. Even if they have a protection order issued against them, the aggressors are not properly monitored by the authorities and continue to commit acts of violence, in some extreme cases reaching femicide.

“We sound the alarm about the massive under-reporting of cases of sexual harassment and violence, due to the misogynist stigma and the multiple obstacles and re-traumatization victims face when they want to ask for help or make a complaint. Women’s access to support services must be adapted to the traumatic context and their needs, make them feel safe and be treated with dignity,” the organizers warn.

Furthermore, women who have been sexually assaulted have nowhere to go to seek help and receive the much-needed support after such violence. While every county urgently needs the existence of at least one specialized intervention center for victims of sexual violence, currently even the 10 centers promised on paper do not really work.

Schools and universities are lagging behind in their duty to prevent and combat abuse, sexual harassment and bullying. And workplaces are unsafe spaces for women, where acts of sexual harassment and discrimination occur frequently, as does the cover-up of these cases.

Cyberbullying and non-consensual pornography are relatively new forms of violence, to which more and more people fall victim, and the authorities do not have enough tools to gather evidence and act in such situations. At the same time, the political scene has been hijacked by a conservative agenda that aims to slowly destroy the democratic fabric of our fundamental rights. While on a declarative level the authorities support gender equality and the fight against gender-based violence, in fact they adopt retrograde legislative proposals, such as banning information about gender identity in schools, mass media, medical institutions.

 

The government has not approved yet the “National Strategy regarding the promotion of equal opportunities between women and men and the prevention and combating of domestic violence”, a document put up for public consultation on March 9, 2021 (a day after March 8!).  The government has not approved nor the system of monitoring aggressors with electronic bracelets, which he has repeatedly announced.

The NGOs argue that the double language of the authorities leads to a harsh reality in which prevention programs and social services are deeply underfunded, understaffed and unprepared to manage this major social problem. “We are taking to the streets to ask decision-makers to put aside empty speeches and really support the fight against gender-based violence. We want human and financial resources to be allocated to combat forms of violence against women, so that our right to safety does not remain only on paper,” the organizers conclude.

domestic violencenationwideoctober 23rallysexual violencesocial assistancevictimsviolence against women
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