Domestic violence – a phenomenon difficult to eradicate in our society, which the authorities are striving to stop. The GREVIO report commends the authorities for their commitment to reducing domestic violence

Despite the efforts made by authorities and society, domestic violence continues to persist in Moldova. While statistics for the last 10 months show a slight decrease in reported cases, there have still been 822 incidents of domestic violence, 14 cases fewer than in the same period of the previous year.

This year, seven persons have been killed by their own family members, while ten have narrowly escaped death. In another 11 cases of domestic violence, victims were beaten to death by their family members. Additionally, 26 rapes and 13 cases of sexual violence against girls and women in the family have been reported.

In 513 cases, family members were subjected to maltreatment, violence, intimidation, and isolation to assert control over them. Psychological violence was identified in over 100 cases, involving financial control as a means of coercion.

Additionally, over 1,500 violations committed by spouses were documented, with law enforcement issuing 4,582 emergency restraining orders.

To ensure the protection of victims of domestic violence, the police monitored 635 protection orders issued by the judiciary, including electronic monitoring in 554 cases.

The scourge of domestic violence is not specific to Moldova only. It is also widely spread in the European Union. According to the available data, one in three women in the EU is affected by this phenomenon. In our country, the data from the National Bureau of Statistics reveal that seven out of ten women in the rural areas and six out of ten women in the urban areas experience at least one form of violence. Moreover, over 63% of women and girls aged 15–65 suffered from at least one form of domestic violence.

To induce behavioral changes in society and provide better protection to the victims of domestic violence, authorities worldwide are developing intensive citizen education programs aimed at addressing aggressive behavior. Such programs are coupled with intervention mechanisms and tools put in place to protect victims and punish perpetrators of domestic violence.

In Moldova, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the National Police are working on the development of the specialized service – the Family Justice Center. The center ensures immediate access for victims of violence to emergency and specialized services in one place – an innovative approach aligned with international practices.

Additionally, the Ministry of Internal Affairs conducts training activities for employees to respond promptly to cases of sexual violence by putting in place guidelines for mixed profile intervention teams. The practical applicability of the joint criminal investigation teams involving also an NGO (with a psychologist and lawyer) is being currently tested in several police inspectorates. Such cooperation aims to provide better documentation of cases and stronger support for victims.

Furthermore, the Ministry of Internal Affairs ensures the secretariat of the Commission for the examination and follow-up of cases resulting in death and severe bodily harm (Femicide Commission). This inter-sector mechanism monitors and analyzes cases of domestic violence resulting in death or severe bodily harm to victims.

This week the Ministry of Internal Affairs has launched an extensive nationwide outreach campaign to raise public awareness of the dangers of domestic violence and the violent behaviors that cause tragedies within families and the available victim protection mechanisms.

“The purpose of this campaign is to encourage victims to seek professional assistance and protection, inform them about the already available support services offered by the Family Justice Center. On the other hand, with this campaign we want to raise the alarm, so everyone understands how toxic family violence is, affecting children and stigmatizing the entire family’s future”, says Daniella Misail Nichitin, Secretary of State at the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

In November, the Council of Europe Group of Experts on Action against Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (GREVIO) published its first evaluation report on the implementation of the Istanbul Convention by the Republic of Moldova. 

The report welcomes the significant commitment demonstrated by the Moldovan authorities to combat violence against women and implement the Istanbul Convention, more specifically:

  • Aligning of legislation with the standards of the Convention;
  • Providing free legal aid to victims of domestic and sexual violence in criminal proceedings;
  • Enabling the law-enforcement officers to issue emergency barring orders on the spot;
  • Support provided to the women fleeing the war in Ukraine;
  • Establishment of the first support center for women victims of sexual violence in Ungheni, etc.

On the other hand, the report identifies the issues requiring urgent action by the authorities:

  • Insufficient services for victims of violence;
  • Urgent need to increase the funding levels, which are modest overall, and to offer sustainable funding sources for women’s rights NGOs providing specialist support services to women victims of violence;
  • The need to reinforce the access of women at risk of intersectional discrimination, including women living in rural areas, to protection and support services;
  • The need to significantly reinforce the initial and in-service training of those professionals who are first in line to provide support and protection to victims;
  • The need for a stronger criminal justice response to domestic violence involving children through protective measures, especially when taking decisions on custody and visitation.

The report emphasizes the need to promote awareness-raising campaigns and conduct research on all forms of violence against women, including those that are currently less explored, such as female genital mutilation, forced marriage, forced sterilization, and forced abortion. It also highlights the importance of facilitating victims’ access to compensation in civil and criminal proceedings, increasing the number and geographical spread of shelters for women, and developing programs aimed at ensuring the long-term economic empowerment of women, among other recommendations.

It should be noted that the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, known as the Istanbul Convention, was ratified by the Parliament of the Republic of Moldova on October 14, 2021 and entered into force in Moldova on May 1, 2022. Moldova became the 35th member state to ratify the convention.By joining the Istanbul Convention, our country has become part of an important international joint effort to combat domestic violence. The Convention is the most comprehensive international legal instrument establishing standards and mechanisms to prevent and combat violence against women.