Sex crimes against children – No jail time for fathers who sexually abuse their children

Cases when parents abuse their children, get a suspended sentence and keep their parental rights – like those presented by Libertatea newspaper – are numerous in Romania, being a terribly common phenomenon in our country. Most of the times, the offender is the principal source of revenues for the family and that’s why this kind of crimes are hidden, and the members of the families chose not to talk both because they’re afraid or ashamed.

Even when they were found guilty, or admitted the crimes they’re faced, the punishments they received were minimal – two or three years in prison, or even no jail time at all. There are some cases when the offenders were sentenced to community service in centers for children with special needs.

There is the case of a teenager from Onești (Bacău County), who was abused by her father. The parent was convicted for sexual assault and he got 3 years suspended sentence, on 10th of May 2018. For repeated sexual assault on his daughter, the father received nothing else but freedom. `During the period of probation of 4 years, the father will serve an unpaid community work for 120 days in a Center of Social Services from Onești or in the Onești City Hall` decided Roxana Alexandrina Damaschin, the judge who was in charge for this case. Even if there is a restraint order for the father, the fear and the poverty are the reasons because the family must keep communicate or even live in the same house with the abusive father.

What are the punishments in other EU countries

While in Romania sex offenders are sentenced to 2 or 3 years in prison or even to suspended sentences, there are other countries in European Union where the judges are far more serious about those cases, their criminals being sentenced to 30 years. In Belgium, for Statutory Rape, the offender faces 10 to 30 years, depending on the age of the child victim. In France, there are punishments that reach even 10 years and fines that are up to 100 000 Euros. In United Kingdom, any man that engages in sexual acts with a girl under the age of 13, is sentenced to 14 years in jail.

infractiuni sexuale copii

The situation of the sex crimes against minors – Romanian Ministry of Justice

Last legislative session I adressed an interpellation to the Romanian Ministry of Justice, about the results of investigations on sexual assaults on children. The first data set came from the Ministry of Justice, regarding the situations from law courts all around the country. A second set of data was requested to the Public Prosecutor’s Office.

From the data we received, between 2014 and 2017, the number of Statutory Rape judged in the courts of law in Romania increased from 142 in 2014 to 477 in 2016. The number dropped a little, to 460 in 2017. Same ascendant situation was registered for the cases of corruption of a minor. The number is four time bigger in 2016, than 2014: 60, respectively 13. If we talk about the outcomes, the number of cases that were solved by the judges was, also, increasing every year, in almost every type of aggression analyzed.

infractiuni sexuale copii

On the other side, from the information I have from the Public Prosecutor’s Office, the number of complaints filled to all the prosecutor’s offices in the country is way bigger than the number of cases discussed by judges. For example, there were 3146 cases of Statutory Rape in 2014, number that increased to 3971 assaults reported at the end of 2017. On the contrary, for the situations of corruption of a minor, the situation is somehow better, the highest value of reported cases was in 2014 – 544.

In this time, the number of cases that were closed is stationary or even dropping. As an example, for the crime of corruption of a minor, the number of cases that were closed decreased from 278 in 2014 to 166 in 2017. Also, in the first months of 2018, another 64 new situations of Statutory Rape were reported.

The situation of the sexual crimes against children in Romania – divided by counties

Children rapes and the solving of those cases

Another type of crimes that were investigated and analyzed by judges are the rapes against victims under 15 and 16 years old. From the information I have from the Ministry of Justice, we can see the number of persons who were definitively convicted. Since 2014, the information is not available to the public.

Grafic violuri minori-MIn-Just

Prevention and protection for the victim, not for offender!

Sexual assaults on children can have serious repercussion on the victims, like the lack of trust in other people for the rest of his or her life, negative feelings and emotions, inappropriate sexual behavior, abuse of alcohol, use of drugs, aggressivity and even suicidal tendencies. What can we do to change that?

  • Prevention – in Romania, the recidivism rate is 70%, but the Government doesn’t have a coherent system to stop repeating those cases. One of the first steps we should follow is creating a National Registry of Sex Offenders – you can read more about it in my activity report.
  • Rebuilding the system to protect the victim, not the offender – victims that are involved in trials with reduced punishments can lose the trust in the justice system and the result may be that the victims will stop reporting the abuses.
  • The Government must provide social assistance and financial support for the families that confront these cases, to regain financial independence and not depend to the offender.
  • The offender must pay for emotional distress to the families of the victims.
  • The government must provide free psychological counselling for at least two years for the child that was abused and his or her family.
  • The minimum punishment for the offender should be increased.
  • Forbidding access of the offender near other children of the family or other children at all, especially in the professional field (an important move in that direction will be made through the National Registry of Sex Offenders).
  • Education policies – 55% of the Romanians believe that in certain situations, the `sexual act without consent` is justified.

It is our duty to implement all those measures as soon as possible, because any children in Romania must have the chance to a decent life, to dignity and to be protected from the abuses. It is our duty to prove that we have #0ToleranceForViolence.