Istanbul Convention: Council of Europe experts praise Moldova’s commitment to combat violence against women but call for improvements
Istanbul Convention / Council of Europe experts praise Moldova’s commitment to combat violence against women but call for improvements
Istanbul Convention / In its first report evaluating the implementation of the Council of Europe’s Istanbul Convention by the Republic of Moldova, the Group of Experts on Action against Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (GREVIO) welcomes the significant commitment demonstrated by the national authorities to combat violence against women and to implement the treaty, while it identifies a number of issues that require urgent action.
The 2007 Law on Preventing and Combating Family Violence, and recent amendments to the legislation, have improved the protection of women victims of violence and the prosecution of perpetrators. For instance, free legal aid is provided to victims of domestic and sexual violence in criminal proceedings, and law-enforcement officers have been enabled to issue emergency barring orders. Two consecutive national programmes have provided the basis for a strategic approach to combatting violence against women and domestic violence, and the authorities have set up multi-agency co-operation mechanisms to improve co-operation between relevant stakeholders.
GREVIO welcomes the establishment of the first sexual assault centre in Ungheni, which provides immediate medical care, trauma support, forensic examinations and psychological assistance by qualified professionals, and praises the authorities for their efforts to provide protection and support to a large number of women and girls fleeing the war in Ukraine.
However, the report highlights that, so far, policies and laws have primarily focused on domestic violence and, to a certain extent, on sexual violence, failing to tackle other forms of violence against women, such as forced marriage, female genital mutilation, forced abortion and forced sterilisation.
GREVIO has also identified an urgent need to increase the funding of women’s rights organisations which currently rely on donor funding, to a large extent, since they play a vital role in delivering specialist support services to women victims of violence. As regards protection measures, the report stresses the need to provide support to women victims in rural areas since these services are currently only available in urban areas and primarily cover domestic violence.
Although amendments to the Criminal Code have better aligned the legislation with the convention’s requirements, GREVIO points out that difficulties persist in applying its provisions in practice, partly because of the lack of understanding of the gendered nature of certain acts of violence against women by relevant professionals. It, therefore, recommends providing training to the professionals in law enforcement and in the justice system who are first respondents to support victims.
While the criminal offence of rape was amended to include a reference to consent, the current definition of non-consensual sexual acts in the Moldovan legislation requires the use of physical or mental coercion by the perpetrator, which leaves out a broad range of circumstances in which force or coercion may not have been present while the victim was unable to give consent freely. GREVIO also found that there is an urgent need to ensure that sterilisation and abortion procedures performed on women with disabilities are not conducted without their informed consent.
As a matter of priority, GREVIO urges the Moldovan authorities to take several measures to fully comply with the convention, including to:
- Develop a central policy document covering all forms of violence against women covered by the convention
- Integrate the needs of domestic workers, asylum-seekers, migrants, women with disabilities, and other women at risk of intersectional discrimination, into the design and implementation of policies aimed at preventing and combatting violence against women
- Provide sufficient human and financial resources to the national body co-ordinating action against violence against women, and to social services providing support to victims, including those provided by local authorities
- Collect, analyse and disseminate disaggregated administrative data on issues relevant to the Istanbul Convention
- Enable the access of women victims of violence to free healthcare services
- Set up dedicated services to ensure the long-term empowerment of women victims of domestic violence and their economic independence
- Increase the number and the geographical spread of domestic violence shelters and their accessibility to women at risk of intersectional discrimination, such as women with disabilities, women with addictions, Roma women, and women living in rural areas
- Ensure that incidents of domestic and sexual violence are duly considered in decisions on custody and visitation rights
- Improve the number and availability of perpetrator programmes
The report has been published together with the comments received from the Moldovan government.
The Republic of Moldova ratified the convention on 31 January 2022.
The GREVIO and the Republic of Moldova
GREVIO is the independent expert body responsible for monitoring the implementation of the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (known as the “Istanbul Convention”) by the Parties.
Open for signature to any country in the world in addition to the 46 Council of Europe member states, the treaty has been ratified so far by 37 states and the European Union, and signed by another seven.