Romania criticised over domestic violence 'failures'

Romanian women, wearing make-up as part of a campaign against domestic violence, protest in front of the Romanian Parliament in Bucharest on 25 November 2011 Image copyright AFP
Image caption Activists have long tried to highlight the lack of awareness of domestic violence as a crime in Romania, and the scant number of resources and facilities to support victims

Romania has been criticised over its lack of commitment to tackling domestic violence in a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights.

The court fined the country after it failed to hold to account a man who attacked his wife eight times.

Officials went so far as to accuse the victim, Angelica Balșan, of provoking the assaults, the court noted.

Official statistics suggest most Romanians think domestic violence is normal, it said.

In certain circumstances, 60% of Romanians see it as justified, it said.

Such attitudes, which were even more deeply entrenched during the period of communist rule, are slowly beginning to shift and the government has adopted new laws to combat such abuse.

But "the overall unresponsiveness of the judicial system and the impunity enjoyed by aggressors, as found in Ms Balșan's case, indicated that there had been insufficient commitment" to enforcing them, the court noted.

It found Romania had violated articles of the European Convention on Human Rights prohibiting inhuman and degrading treatment and discrimination based on gender.

'Feared for life'

Angelica Balșan married her husband in 1979 and told the court her husband had been violent to her and their four children throughout their marriage.

But the violence intensified during their divorce proceedings in 2007, she testified.

She sustained injuries that required between two and 10 days' medical care.

She requested protection through emergency calls, petitions to the head of police and criminal complaints, saying she feared for her life.

In some cases authorities decided not to press charges in the belief that she had provoked the attacks. In other cases her husband was acquitted in court.

Finding against Romania, the court ordered it pay Ms Balșan €9,800 (£8,480; $11,000) in damages.

The verdict can be challenged and referred to the Court's Grand Chamber.

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