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6% of Romanian Women Have Been the Victims of Sexual Aggression

The European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) study, “Violence against Women: every day and everywhere” shows that 6% of Romanian women have been sexually aggressed at some point in their life. The FRA survey’s results are more worrying as the number of cases of sexual aggressions and rapes reported to the authorities is under 1500 cases per year. The difference between what gets into the police statistics and women’s daily life, where harassing and sexual aggression are almost daily occurrences, is surrounded by silence and covered by taboos, prejudices and fear.

10500392_836520416365666_8299649154462120985_nThe “Breaking the Silence about Sexual Violence” NGO network aims at introducing on the public agenda the problem of sexual violence, the rights of the victims of such crimes, shortcomings in legislation and in the authorities getting into contact with the victims. These shortcomings affect both the punishing of the aggressor and the victims’ recovery, and limit the development of specialised assistance services for survivors of sexual violence.

In order to promote joint messages and positions in the public space, “Breaking the Silence about Sexual Violence” network meets every month in a series of thematic meetings which are open to other nongovernmental organizations working with beneficiaries who are at risk of victimizations.

During the network’s first work meeting, which took place in 24 July 2014, the NGOs’ representatives concluded that it is necessary to modify the Law of family violence (L217/2003) so that it mentions all the forms violence against women. They suggest that this law has to be adapted to the provisions of the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (Istanbul Convention), recently signed by the Romanian Government.10502470_836520509698990_4994550299207589989_n

In the same meeting on Thursday, Maria Stoleru from Artemis Association highlighted the danger that a victim to be re-traumatised through medical, police and legal procedures when those who get into contact with him/her do not take into consideration the difficulties he/she goes through. “When the needs of a rape victim are not fulfilled precisely by the people he/she turns to for help, the effects can be rather devastating. The main assignment in order to recover after the trauma is to rebuild a form of trust, even if minimal”, Maria Stoleru pointed out.

10478937_836520519698989_8204132760118934949_nA third topic targeted sexual violence in the Roma community. Anca Tănase from E-Romnja Association wanted to highlight the fact that the prejudice that sexual violence is mainly prevalent amongst poor people and the Roma is rooted in society, ignoring the fact that sexual violence takes no account of ethnicity, religion, education, social and economic status etc. A strategy to combat sexual violence in Roma communities has to take some factors into account: police brutality, racist attitudes in relation to local and central authorities and Roma discrimination when it comes to accessing medical and social services.

The informal network “Breaking the Silence about Sexual Violence” is made up of the following organizations: Transcena Association, East European Institute for Reproductive Health (IEESR), Front Association, Centrul Parteneriat pentru Egalitate (CPE), E-Romnja Association, Filia Association, AnA Society for Feminist Analyses, Artemis Association, coordinator – Association for Liberty and Equality of Gender – A.L.E.G., and Sensiblu Foundation as collaborator.

The activities of the “Breaking the Silence about Sexual Violence” network are part of the project “Breaking the Silence about Sexual Violence: strengthening NGO capacity to integrate sexual violence on the public agenda”, financed through the SEE 2009-2014 grants, within the NGO Fund in Romania. The total value of the project is 43,409 Euro and the implementation period is 15 May 2014- 15 May 2015.

Bucharest, 28 July 2014

Sustainable Development and Gender Equality

Between 30th and 9th of July, A.L.E.G. through Irina Costache participates at the working meetings of High Level Political Forum on imagine HLPFSustainable Development, an inter-governmental mechanism that will insure the monitoring and reporting on the implementation of development objectives for 2015-2030. The main priority for these discussions will be to ensure the meaningful participation of women and women’s rights organizations in the aftermath of 2015. At the end of the forum we hope to have had established a mechanism by which women’s rights organizations will be able to participate in program and policy evaluation regarding sustainable development.

 Recently the European Parliament adopted a decision that established 2015 as the European Year of Development ( EYD 2015). This decision aims to inform the european general public about the future agenda on sustainable development. This agenda has been drafted and debated over the past year at the UN with different stakeholder making their voiced heard during different fora and  work meetings. The EYD also aims to explain the responsabilities European Union member states have towards less developed and poorer parts of the work. As major donors, EU governments  aim to restore the historical debt these countries have in the degradation of the environment as well as towards poorer countries in the world.

During the european year of development we hope that A.L.E.G. will contribute with its own experience to information and education campaigns and in this way it will underline the link between gender equality and sustainable development, a crucial link for attainting inclusive and sustainable development goals.

 Through Astra Network and IWHC ( International Women’s Health Coalition) ALEG had the opportunity to participate in a series of regional and international consultations regarding the fundamental principles, objectives and priorities as well as to the means of implementation, monitoring and reporting mechanisms attached to the upcoming development agenda. At these meetings A.L.E.G. worked together with other women’s NGOs from around the globe  (through Women’s Major Group) trying to promote gender equality as a fundamental principle for sustainable development, ending violence and discrimination against women and girls, promoting sexual and reproductive health and rights and women’s participation in all levels of decision-making ( including in finance) as objectives in an inclusive development agenda.