Two NGOs have announced on Monday they had reclaimed Vasile Banescu, the spokesperson of the Romanian Orthodox Patriarchy to the National Council for Combating Discrimination (CNCD) for his previous statements on the teen mothers. Banescu had said last week in Parliament during a debate on the family referendum that it is not the lack of sexual education that is to blame for the cases of teenage mothers, but other social reasons, including the “affiliation to a certain ethnic group”. The Romanian Orthodox Church official also claimed that there is no need for “intensive sexual education” in schools.
E-Romnja and Filia Centerhave filed a notification to CNCD on Monday, arguing Vasile Banescu has made discriminating statements against Roma girls and against other girls belonging to disadvantaged social categories.
„It’s a cheap sophism to say that a Roma girl or another girl who has been sexually abused or a girl who has abandoned school, who is living without her parents who are left to work abroad, and who, of course, is in a moral drift, have come to the unfortunate situation of getting pregnant due to the lack of sexual education in schools. All these cases actually have sociological reasons behind: school dropout, parents left abroad, the lack of access to virtual information in the countryside and last, but not least, the affiliation to a certain ethnic group, where, as we well know, that sexual life starts much earlier”, the BOR spokesperson used to say.
The two NGOs argue that the statements „are strengthening the prejudices against Roma minority and against other vulnerable groups, while fueling hatred against Roma girls or other vulnerable girls by exclusively associating them with the high rate of births among the teen girls in Romania”.
„Vasile Banescu’s statements, broadcast through the mass media, have a strong impact, following the symbolic power that the religious institution is holding, and legitimates the existing racism and sexism across the Romanian society”, reads a statement by Filia Center.
According to official statistics, Romania has the highest number of teen mothers in Europe. 9,282 minor girls became mothers in 2015, with 676 of them having ages ranging from 10 to 14 years old.
Other statistics revealed by World Vision Romania point that there were 26,000 teen moms registered last year, which means 10 pc of the total number of women giving birth annually in Romania.
On the other hand, data also reveal that Romanian women are having over 70,000 abortions every year, while one in ten women is a teenager.