UN warns Romania: women are facing violence, discrimination and stereotypes

What measures must the Romanian government implement by 2021 to fight discrimination against women? From offering services to help women survivors of violence, to ensuring the provision of sexual education in schools, gender quotas for political candidates, gender quotas for companies listed in the Stock Exchange, prohibiting the practice of conscientious objection towards abortions in hospitals, and the simplification of the process of filing complaints of sexual harassment.

All of the above are a part of the referrals submitted in the Romanian Report by the UN Committee for the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).

In June 2017, the UN carried out Romania’s periodical evaluation as part of the 67th CEDAW session on the implementation of The UN Convention for the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women.

One of the points noted by the UN was that the members of the Romanian government are not ready to address the specificity of the problems women are facing. Training sessions for judges and prosecutors, police, social services, local authorities, and academic personnel was recommended, so that these respective authorities can be correctly informed on women’s rights and its specific legislation, can implement gender sensitive intervention protocols, inter-institutional co-operation, and a general approach to prevent situations in which discrimination, violence, or abuse against women and girls take place.

According to the report, Romania needs to guarantee protection against all forms of violence against women in the contexts of both married and unmarried couples. The UN Committee wished to underline that women in Romania who are victims of violence do not have complete and free access to medical services and psychological counseling, and that shelters and care centers are not available and accessible throughout the country.

It is urgent that the school textbooks are revised to include references to the roles women played throughout history, along with their cultural and scientific contributions, including those of Roma women. Currently, both school textbooks and teachers perpetuate gender stereotypes.

The government must also include in the school curricula mandatory sexual education and reproductive rights, including coverage of contraception, sexually transmitted diseases and infections, sexual violence, and domestic violence.

Another recommendation for the Government is to multiply efforts to ensure access to drinking water, sanitation, transportation services, healthcare, education, and jobs for women living in rural areas, as well as improving the educational infrastructure in rural environments, including areas with Roma majority populations and poor communities, in order to lower differences between social groups in access to compulsory education, through the elimination of class segregation.

The committee notes with concern that Roma women, migrant women, women who live in rural areas, women with disabilities, and women who suffer from HIV/AIDS are disproportionately affected by poverty and have limited access to healthcare, education and the labor market. Multiple discrimination is not recognized as such by national legislation.

The committee expresses its concern that the government’s failure to recognize civil unions and partnerships carries negative consequences against women’s rights.

The committee is worried about the significantly high number of women from Romania that are trafficked to other countries. The lack of investigations of public sector employees suspected of involvement in cases of woman trafficking, is viewed with concern.

The committee also underlines the importance of the unrestricted right to abortion in safe, appropriate conditions and expresses its concern about the conscientious objection towards abortion carried out by certain doctors and in certain hospitals. Legislation needs to prohibit medical institutions from the practice of conscientious objection.

The Romanian government needs to ensure equal pay. Legislation exists in this field, but the difference in remuneration between men and women still persists.

To increase the participation of women in the board of management in large, private companies, it is recommended that a gender quota is introduced for the companies listed at the Bucharest Stock Exchange. The Romanian government must also develop a safe and confidential system for filing complaints related to sexual harassment and gender discrimination at work.

“Through this evaluation, the UN confirms what nongovernmental organizations have been saying for years: Romania still has many steps to take until it eliminates women’s discrimination and ensures their fundamental rights, especially those of the most vulnerable groups of women, who remain invisible to the rest of Romanian society: Roma women, women with disabilities, homeless women, women that are institutionalized, women from rural environments, women that live in poverty, migrant women and refugee women”, stated Carmen Gheorge, President of E-Romnja Association, participant at the session in Geneva.

At the UN session in Geneva, the civil society presented an alternative report, written by Romanian women’s rights organizations: E-Romnja – the Association for Promoting Roma Women’s Rights (Asociația pentru Promovarea Drepturilor Femeilor Rome), The Coalition for Gender Equality (Coaliția pentru Egalitate de Gen), and The Romanian Network for Prevention and Combating Violence against Women (Rețeaua pentru Prevenirea și Combatarea Violenței împotriva Femeilor).

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