Call to MPs to improve legal framework for preventing sexual harassment

The phenomenon of sexual harassment in the labor relations should be a priority in the public agenda. Statistics show that each fifth working woman faces subtle forms of harassment, such as looks, touches and caresses, while four in 100 women face serious forms of harassment. 20% of the women face sexual harassment at the place of study and only 15% of the women report these cases. The Council for Preventing and Eliminating Discrimination and Ensuring Equality, the Women’s Law Center and the Partnership for Development Center call on the MPs to improve the legal framework for preventing this phenomenon.

In a news conference at IPN, Arina Ţurcan, lawyer for the Women’s Law Center, said the phenomenon of sexual harassment is rather present in Moldova, but is less reported by the law enforcement agencies. “The number of cases that were recorded and reported by the Prosecutor’s Office and the police is relatively low compared with the gravity and share of this phenomenon. According to the Prosecutor General’s Office, there were 31 notifications of sexual harassment in 2019 and 22 criminal cases were started over these. At the end of 2019, the PGO was handling 30 criminal cases started based on complaints about sexual harassment.

Arina Ţurcan noted the phenomenon should be treated seriously, while the normative framework should be clear and comprehensive so that the victims of sexual harassment obtain an effective legal remedy. “We need a comprehensive and clear legal framework as the analyses of the regulations show that the mechanism for protecting the victims from sexual harassment is now rather unclear, also because we have at least five institutions empowered to investigate facts related to sexual harassment. As long as no clarity is ensured by law, as regards the responsible institution and the conditions in which the victim can seek help, the victims are confused and preconditions can also appear for these cases to be transferred from one institution to another,” stated the lawyer.

According to her, the bill provides clarification, especially when it goes to harassment as a form of discrimination, including according to the gender criterion. “This bill, besides specifying the acts of harassment according to the gender criterion, when these take the form of discrimination, reviews the penalties for these offenses. There was also introduced a new offense component for victimization,” said Arina Ţurcan, noting the bill also contains amendments to the norms concerning the employers’ obligation to prevent acts of sexual harassment at the workplace and to the Contravention Code, which stipulate penalties for not fulfilling this obligation.

The member of the Gender Equality Platform Alina Andronache, the representative of the Partnership for Development Center, reiterated the necessity of making particular legislative amendments and the call to the authorities to take measures to prevent sexual harassment in the labor relations. “Despite all the efforts made by the nongovernmental sector to promote particular legislative measures to prevent and combat sexual harassment, especially at the workplace, today we do not yet have very clear regulations, a registered bill that would address the phenomenon from all the perspectives and would ensure the protection of the rights of victims of this phenomenon,” stated Alina Andronache.

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