Public discussion on access to justice for survivors of gender-based violence

November 29, 2022

The event "Access to justice for women victims and survivors of gender-based violence" took place on 29 November at the National Institute of Justice, as part of the “16 days of activism to end violence against women and girls” campaign.

Access to justice plays an important role in the fight to end gender-based violence. A coordinated and integrated justice response leads to the conviction of perpetrators, contributing to the safety and well-being of survivors and preventing re-victimisation. At the same time, there are many obstacles that hinder access to justice: stereotypes and prejudices in society as well as lack of information about rights and the legal framework, availability and accessibility of legal aid, lack of specific training in eliminating gender-based violence for judges, prosecutors, uncoordinated response, all these leading to re-victimisation and decreased trust in the justice system.

According to the Grevio report of 3 October 2022, out of 1673 victims of domestic violence cases in 2021, 1404 were women, which is almost 84% and out of 1673 perpetrators, 1571 were men, which is almost 94%.

Opening the event, the interim director of the National Institute of Justice (NIJ), Ecaterina Popa said: "The mission of the NIJ is to strengthen the professional capacities of our beneficiaries by offering quality training. In our work, we also try to change certain attitudes and stereotypes. Already for two years, in collaboration with the Women's Law Centre, the La Strada Centre and the National Centre for the Prevention of Child Abuse, we have been organising seminars for our beneficiaries. On the launch of ‘16 days of activism to end violence against women and girls’ campaign, on 25 November, we launched the course 'Women's access to justice in cases of domestic violence'. We will continue to do our utmost to ensure that our beneficiaries are able to respond as effectively as possible to cases of violence and that women and girls are no longer subjected to this phenomenon."

The Minister of Internal Affairs, Ana Revenco mentioned that "if we want to prevent gender-based violence, we need to start with education. And here we are talking about the education of future judges, police officers, lawyers, psychologists, every person who will liaise with victims of violence. We need to invest in education if we want a modern society, a stable society in which girls and women are seen as values that contribute to the development of the country. And for this, we must all do our bit. At the same time, I assure you that, in addition to the concern to preserve peace in the country in the context of the war in Ukraine, the Ministry of Internal Affairs remains firmly committed to bringing to justice those who are guilty of violence against women and girls and to preventing the re-victimisation."

"Although we have made some progress in preventing and combating gender-based violence, with regret, this phenomenon is not decreasing and the rights of victims, including at the stage of contact with law enforcement institutions, are not fully ensured. However, these shortcomings are not always of a legislative nature. What matters is the application of legal norms to concrete cases. Also, to ensure that women have equal access to justice, it is extremely important that legal practitioners adopt a gender-sensitive approach and ensure that they interpret the law in line with notions of equality and international human rights. We, the Ministry of Justice, are happy to be actively involved in making the justice system in the country more efficient. I believe that to achieve the proposed goals of eliminating gender-based violence, efforts should be combined and jointly recognized," declared the State Secretary of the Ministry of Justice, Veronica Mihailov-Moraru.

Kent D. Logsdon, U.S. Ambassador to Moldova, said, "This year, the 16-days campaign has a special connotation because we are celebrating one year since the Republic of Moldova ratified the Istanbul Convention. I would like to express my gratitude to all those who have worked to promote human rights and to protect girls and women from violence. Our priority must be to prevent gender-based violence, but when it does happen, to ensure that victims are treated with compassion and respect and that they have access to justice. We, the Embassy of the United States of America to Moldova, are proud to stand with you in the fight against domestic and gender-based violence."

Dominika Stojanoska, UN Women Country Representative, said: "The war in Ukraine, the energy crisis, the economic crisis are leading to increased violence against girls and women. The same situation has been witnessed in times of pandemic. Violence against women and girls is the most serious violation of human rights. It destroys families, communities, and human lives. Several very important legal amendments have been adopted recently, but we need to see how we can make their implementation as effective as possible, so that victims have equal access to justice and are more willing to report violence."

"Ensuring access to justice is crucial to responding to gender-based violence. Without effective legal remedies, efforts on many other dimensions are insufficient. Today's dialogue comes to address gaps in laws, procedures, capacities, by taking good practices, including at the international level and co-creating viable solutions to overcome barriers to access to justice," mentioned Andrea Cuzyova, UNDP Deputy Resident Representative to the Republic of Moldova.

The event "Access to justice for women victims and survivors of gender-based violence" was organized by UN Women and UNDP, in collaboration with the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Ministry of Justice, the National Institute of Justice, the National Coalition "Life without Domestic Violence", with the financial support of Sweden and the U.S. Department of State.