The project ensures a service that is unique in Romania: free psychological and legal assistance, including court representation for people who went through a form of sexual violence. Most sexual violence victims do not talk to anyone about what happened to them and it is very rarely that they get help because of shame and self-blaming. Those who do decide to file a complaint go through re-traumatizing experiences and need to be supported without being judged.
The non-profit Association for Liberty and Gender Equality – A.L.E.G. has been offering support for victims of gender based violence for 10 years and carrying out information and awareness campaigns on gender equality and violence prevention. We have also been involved in lobby and advocacy activities, in an attempt to improve national legislation. In 2014, we initiated the first NGO network focusing on sexual violence: “Breaking the Silence on Sexual Violence”, taking action in cases when the authorities don’t act appropriately. At European level, A.L.E.G. is a member of the coordinating committee of WAVE and a member of ASTRA (regional network for sexual and reproductive rights and health in Central and Eastern Europe).
As of 2015, A.L.E.G. has been accredited as a social services provider and can provide the following services:
– Counseling and therapy for victims of gender based violence
– Educative and awareness raising activities on gender equality and the prevention of violence against women, especially targeted on youngsters
The need/problem that the project approaches
Many Romanian women have, at some point in their life, been through some form of sexual violence, be it obscene language or unwanted touches on the street, at school, at their workplace or, even worse, they have been coerced (sometimes by someone they knew) to have unwanted sexual acts. We avoid talking about all these, thus they are hidden aspects of our lives that keep happening: it happens to us and to our daughters as well. According to a FRA study, 38% of Romanian women have been through sexual or physical violence and 24% of them before they were 15 years old.
These are traumatic events that affect all levels of our lives, which is why it is important to be able to talk to a professional about what happened in order to get over the feelings of guilt, self-blame, anger and anxiety or other problems that may come up, such as sleep and eating disorders. In Romania, there is no helpline specialized on violence against women, nor rape crisis centers, as is the case in other European countries.
Beneficiaries and target group
Girls and young women from various social environments, pupils and students, women from rural and urban areas will be the main direct beneficiaries. Boys can also be victims of sexual violence, especially youngsters in vulnerable groups, as other those in placement centers. Our service is also used by people other than the victims, who want to find out how to help a friend or a family member in such a situation. We are contacted by about 75 people each year.
The project aims at increasing the access of the community to specialized information and support services aimed at getting over traumas associated to violence.
Changes that the project will bring to society
An innovative social system trying to cover the lack of specialized services for victims of sexual violence. Our services are free of charge and include:
- – online counseling that can be accessed at https://aleg-romania.eu/consiliere/,
- – Individual psychological counseling, support groups, legal counseling and court representation,
- – paying for legal medical certificates or medical assistance (e.g. tests to find possible infections, emergency treatment etc.)
- The setting up of a specialized service was possible within the project “My Body, My Own” – Sexual Violence among Youngsters: awareness raising and counseling center, funded through EEA grants 2009-2014, within the NGO Fund for Romania
- Supporting at least 30 people affected by sexual violence to get over the trauma and/or to take legal action
- 350 people from Sibiu, mainly youngsters, informed on the topic of sexual violence prevention and intervention and support methods when someone is abused.