Violence Against Women in Romania
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Population of women: 11,017,000/21,388,000

Life expectancy of women (at birth): 78

School life expectancy for women: 15

Women's adult literacy: 97%

Unemployment of women: 6.8%

Women engaged in economic activity: 49%


Source: U.N. Statistics Division, Social Indicators, updated December 2012


last updated August 2013


Article 16 of the Romanian Constitution provides for equality for all citizens before the law and authorities.[i] Article 41(4) also sets out the principle of equal pay for equal work between men and women, and Article 48 establishes equality between spouses in marriage.[ii]


Since 2000, Romania has gone on to pass a number of additional laws that expand upon the provisions and further the objectives contained in the original National Action Plan, as well as generally reinforcing the concept of equality between women and men in Romania. In Law No. 48 of 2002 on the Prevention and Sanction of All Forms of Discrimination. Article 1 guarantees equality between citizens in working conditions, recruitment, promotions, access to training, social security, public services, education, and public peace.[iii] Gender discrimination is proscribed in employment (Articles 5, 6, 7 and 8), choice of residence (Article 17), access to public services (Article 10), education (Article 15) and public places (Article 18).[iv]


Romania also adopted Law 202/2002, which seeks to eradicate direct and indirect sex discrimination in all areas of public life. Pursuant to Chapter I, Article 4 of Law 202/2002, direct gender discrimination is defined as any detrimental “treatment inflicted by reason of one’s gender, pregnancy, maternity, birth or when a paternity leave is granted;” indirect discrimination occurs where apparently neutral criteria or practices affect people belonging to one gender, except for the situation where the application of these provisions, criteria or practices can be justified by objective factors without gender connection.”[v] Employers are required to inform employees of the sexual harassment prohibition through posters.[vi]


Romania’s first National Action Plan for Employment was adopted in 2003 to assist Romania in the EU accession process. The Plan contains four main pillars: (a) improving employability, (b) creating new jobs and entrepreneurial opportunities, (c) encouraging the adaptability of businesses and employees, and (d) improving equal opportunities for women and men.[vii] Article 5 of the Labor Code provides for equal treatment and proscribes both direct and indirect discrimination. Direct discrimination is defined as "actions and facts of exclusion, differentiation, restriction, or preference, based on one or several of the criteria stipulated under paragraph (2), the purpose or effect of which is the failure to grant, the restriction or rejection of the recognition, use, or exercise of the rights stipulated in the labour legislation."[viii] Article 154(3) prohibits any discrimination in wages based on several protected grounds, including gender.[ix] Romania’s criminal code imposes stronger sanctions, including longer jail sentences, for violent offenses committed against family members than for similar offenses which are committed against non-family members; unfortunately, however, Romania courts have prosecuted relatively few cases of domestic abuse, as many such cases are resolved before or during trial as a result of the victim’s reconciliation with the abuser and/or the victim’s desire not to press charges.[x]


Articles 185 and 186 in Romania’s Criminal Code, which concern assault and violence against others, provide for harsher punishment in circumstances where such violence is directed towards a family member.[xi] This legislation established the National Agency for Family Protection (“NAFP”) within the Ministry of Labour, Family and Equal Opportunities, provided standards for counseling offices and shelters for victims, and defined domestic violence as “any physical or verbal action deliberately perpetrated by a family member against another member of the same family, resulting in physical, psychological, sexual suffering or material loss.”[xii]


In March 2012, Romania adopted Law 25/2012, amending Law 217/2003. The new legislation (a) amended the definition of domestic violence to include verbal, psychological, physical, sexual or spiritual violence, (b) allowed victims to request a court order of protection and a restraining order against the abuser, and (c) provided that the victim is entitled to respect to personality, privacy, dignity, special protection, counseling, rehabilitation, reintegration, free medical care, and legal aid.[xiii] Law 25/2012 also provides for some penalties to the abuser, including psychological testing, psychological counseling, detoxification programs and fines.[xiv] Unfortunately, according to the 2012 Country Report on Human Rights Practices in Romania, these service centers were insufficient in number and too unevenly distributed to adequately address the widespread nature of domestic violence within Romania as a whole.[xv] Recently, Romania has launched a national initiative in order to combat violence against women and raise public awareness of the issue. This effort involves the action of radio and TV stations, NGOs, the Territorial Authority of Public Order from the county level, the County Council, the Labor and Social Protection Directorate, the General Directorate of Social Assistance and Child Protection, and the County School Inspectorate.[xvi]




According to the2012 Country Report on Human Rights Practices in Romania, there were 697 reported cases of rape in the first eleven months of 2012 and 440 persons faced trial for this offense.[xvii] If certain aggravating circumstances exist, imprisonment may be extended up to 25 years.[xviii] Accordingly, in many cases, rapists avoid punishment because victims withdraw their complaint or do not file.




Under international pressure, the Romanian government has taken several initiatives to combat trafficking in persons. Romania adopted its first National Action Plan for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings in 2001. The Plan was introduced in the Criminal Code in 2002.[xix] The Strategy set out a series of objectives, including strengthening the role of the National Agency, improving the quality of assistance provided to victims, developing and implementing the National Database on Victims of Trafficking, establishing an anti-trafficking help-line and fostering collaboration between regions and public and private institutions.[xx] The National Agency continues to coordinate, evaluate and monitor these implementation efforts, as well as victim protection and assistance policies.[xxi]


In 2010, pursuant to Law no. 230/2010, Romania amended Law no. 678/2001 in a number of respects, including a more inclusive definition of exploitation that takes into consideration forced begging, increasing the accommodation period for victims from 10 to 90 days, and increasing the penalties for an aggregated form of trafficking (i.e., if committed by a family member or upon a minor, a pregnant woman or upon a physically or mentally disabled person). In addition to these legislative measures, Romania has initiated a number of campaigns and projects designed to raise awareness of the issue of trafficking with not only the general public, but also potential victims.[xxii] Romanian authorities investigated a total of 867 human trafficking cases, prosecuted 667 cases and convicted 427 trafficking offenders in 2012.[xxiii] Approximately 334 of the convicted offenders were sentenced to prison time with terms ranging from 1 to 15 years.[xxiv] During the course of 2012, Romanian officials participated in 94 joint trafficking investigations and 16 suspects were extradited from Romania for trafficking crimes.[xxv]

[i] Constitution of Romania,”

[ii] Constitution of Romania,”

[v] Law No. 202/2002 On Equal Opportunities Between Women and Men, Chapter I, Article 4,

[vi] Law No. 202/2002 On Equal Opportunities Between Women and Men, Chapter II, Article 8,

[viii] Section 5(3) of the Labor Code,

[ix] Section 154(3) of the Labor Code,

[x] U.S. Department of State Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2012,

[xi] Criminal Code of Romania, This version of Romania’s Criminal Code was adopted in 2004 and entered into force in July 2005. Amendments of 2006 and beyond are not included in the text; however, it was the most recent version available in English. The Romanian Criminal Code, including recent amendments made in 2009, is available in Romanian at:

[xii] Bucuta Mihaela, Dima Gabriela, Xoltani Katalin, and Antal Dalma Delia, “The Phenomenon of Domestic Violence in Romania: A Prevention and Intervention,” Interdisciplinary Journal of Family Studies (2012),

[xv] U.S. Department of State Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2012,

[xvi] United Nations, Human Rights Council, Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review, Fifteenth Session, December 3, 2012, “National report submitted in accordance with paragraph 5 of the annex to Human Rights Council resolution 16/21: Romania,” Endnote 40,

[xvii] U.S. Department of State Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2012,

[xxiii] U.S. Department of State Trafficking in Persons Report 2013,

[xxiv] U.S. Department of State Trafficking in Persons Report 2013,

[xxv] U.S. Department of State Trafficking in Persons Report 2013,