Inauguration of the first Specialised service for victims of sexual violence in the Republic of Moldova
The first Specialised service for victims of sexual violence in the Republic of Moldova was inaugurated in Ungheni. The service is funded by the European Union and has been created with the support of UN Women in partnership with the central and local authorities. The service provides any adult, victim of sexual violence, with the possibility to benefit from medical, legal, psychological and social assistance in one place.
In the Republic of Moldova, the victims of gender-based violence, including sexual violence, face many challenges, ranging from the fear of stigma in the communities, to the lack of a specialised support service and to barriers in access to justice. The stigma against the victims of violence in the communities, the lack of available services or the trust in authorities continues to affect the level of reporting. Nonetheless, the reporting of domestic and gender-based violence has increased in the last years, which shows a slight improvement in the awareness of people, especially of women, to not tolerate violence and seek for help. Thus, based on the data from the General Police Inspectorate, in 2022, 5,907 protection orders were issued, compared to 2,161 in 2017. Moreover, women and girls feel more empowered and safer as a result of the increased number of customized safety plans issued by the law enforcement authorities (4843 in 2022, compared to 3920 last year).
The inauguration of Specialised service included also a round table in which representatives of central and local authorities, international organisations, civil society and service providers took part.
"It is a pilot project that we have waited for. We have cooperated with the multidisciplinary teams and continue to do so because people need us and specialised services, and we are glad that this goal has been achieved. There was a need for this service, in which specialists will decide together on the methods of working so that people feel safe. The service has to be confidential and have a positive impact on victims", pointed out Tatiana Lazar, the Deputy President of Ungheni district, who was present at the round table event.
The main discussion points focused on the importance of protection services directed towards the needs of the victims of violence, the need to strengthen the protection services and increase the availability of specialised services in accordance with the provisions of the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence.
Alexei Buzu, the Minister of Labour and Social Protection, mentioned: "Any reform, any program will be successful if we ensure conditions for our colleagues in the frontline. This includes creating a clear vision in the system, ensuring investments in knowledge, skills and, why not, salaries of our frontline colleagues, but also promoting an efficient management and a proactive leadership. One challenge in approaching the gender-based violence is the need to ensure a multidisciplinary response, and this involves an active leadership. The service launched today is part of a complex process and I hope it is a model that we will be able to replicate all across the country."
"The victims of sexual violence have to be sure that they will be received and assisted in a professional way and in a safe environment. They need to feel understood and safe when they interact with the multidisciplinary teams. Today we are launching the first service for the victims of sexual violence in the country, but we will not stop here. In the next years we will start providing such support in the North and Centre of the Republic of Moldova. My message for the victims of sexual violence is: ‘Here you will be listened and supported. Don’t hesitate to report cases of sexual violence. The perpetrators must be punished’, claimed the H.E. Janis Majeiks, the EU Ambassador in the Republic of Moldova.
Dominika Stojanoska, the UN Women Country Representative, highlighted the joint efforts made for the co-creation of the Service, including based on the needs underlined and reflected by the victims themselves: ‘It is critical to have this integrated approach, with all the services located in one place to better support the victims of sexual violence. I am glad that we are part of this process and I know that the work is just beginning. We will continue to be close to the authorities, because this is the key to prevent and eliminate violence and to provide the necessary specialised services".
Alexandru Ambros, the Mayor on Ungheni municipality, who was present at the event, addressed to the multidisciplinary teams with the recommendation "to have a good team and perform their activity in a way that will encourage people who are contacting them to trust these teams. It is important that victims receive a strengthened response, not only a formal one".
As regarding the cases of sexual violence, in 2021, the police registered 555 offences related to the sexual life, which shows an increase comparing to the previous year (2020 – 466). Therefore, we can suppose that the prevalence of gender-based violence cases is higher, but the cases are underreported because of the many factors mentioned above.
The importance of the cross-sectoral and multidisciplinary dimension was addressed by Daniela Misail-Nichitin, State Secretary of the Ministry of Internal Affairs: "This service has to solve a range of challenges faced by actors, including my colleagues from the police units, when we speak about a prompt and strengthened response for the victims of sexual violence. The way we implement a cross-sectoral approach is very important, because when we talk about violence, it is not the responsibility of just one entity. Therefore, what we need to strengthen most is the cross-sectoral and multidisciplinary component to ensure an effective response for all people who have gone through such experiences".
Alexandru Gasnaș, State Secretary within the Ministry of Health, stated that: "In order to effectively solve some complex problems in the society, it is important to have an integrated approach of services. The models taken over can be viable only if adjusted to the situation in our country – perceptions and experiences. It is particularly by actively involving the multidisciplinary teams, by continuously informing the girls and women about the possibility to receive help, and by building confidence in this service that we have the chance to obtain real results".
The specialised service for victims of sexual violence was created within the ‘Strengthened Gender Action in Cahul and Ungheni districts’ EVA Project, funded by the European Union and implemented by UN Women Moldova in partnership with UNICEF Moldova.