Chamber of Deputies unduly postpones the adoption of the law that considers rape any sexual act with a minor under 16

Data:

Romanian Chamber of Deputies unduly delays the vote for a law project that will impose the minimum age of sexual consent to 16 years old. The initiative has been passed in the Senate since last June. It was registered at the Chamber of Deputies in September 2022, meanwhile has received all the necessary committee opinions, but has not been put to the vote in the last three months.

The main opponents of the law that would automatically make any sexual act with a minor under the age of 16 a crime, even if the minor has given the consent, are PSD MP Alfred Simonis and Transport Minister Sorin Grindeanu, according to PRESShub sources.

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Why is it necessary to have a minimum age of consent

Currently in Romania, there is no legal minimum age for minors below which they cannot be considered to have given valid consent to sexual activity with an adult partner or with a partner older by more than three years.

The Judicial Inspectorate’s report published in July 2021 shows numerous examples of judges classifying acts of rape against girls between the age of 10-12 as consensual sexual acts with adults, justifying this classification by the fact that the minors consented to the sexual acts by the way they were dressed, their physical development and behaviour, and by the assumption that if they did not tell anyone what they experienced, the act did not exist, notes the Network to Prevent and Combat Violence against Women (VIF Network).

„Children cannot truly consent/give valid consent to sexual acts with an adult”, is the argument used by the initiators of the amendment to the current law, PSD and PNL senators and deputies, based on an expert paper by judicial psychologist George Visu.

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„The most subtle forms of psychological and emotional coercion and manipulation are incompatible with the notion of valid consent. Abusers exploit their position of power over the child, gradually sexualise the child, pass to the child erroneous knowledge about sexuality that is fovarable to abuse and in this way attract and manipulate the child into the abusive relationship”, the explanatory memorandum of the law states.

Up to 18 years in prison

The Senate passed the proposed law, but with the age under which any sexual act with a minor is considered assault set at 15, with 108 votes in favour and only one vote against.

Last September, the project was registered in the Chamber of Deputies, which is the decision-making chamber. However, since February, nothing has happened. Interestingly, MPs did not approve the urgent procedure requested for this project.

On March 1st, the first day of the new parliamentary session, 73 non-governmental organisations called on parliamentarians to speed up the adoption of the law and return to the minimum age of 16.

„The arguments for the Chamber of Deputies to introduce 16 years as the limit of valid consent are very numerous and well-founded.

This age limit is a necessary protective measure against sex offenders. Sexual abuse of minors is often hidden, difficult to prove because of the unequal power relationship between adult abusers and child victims.

The burden of proof in criminal cases is on the victims of sexual violence, not the offenders, and it is much more difficult for minor victims to provide evidence of being coerced, unable to express their will, or that the abuser took advantage of the child’s condition, as specified in the Penal Code for rape offences.

The introduction of an age limit of 16 years reduces the pressure on child victims to prove a crime that is often hidden.

In addition, the minimum legal age for marriage is 16 (only on the basis of a medical opinion and with the consent of the parents/guardian and authorisation of the guardianship court), the individual becomes able to work at 16, minors cannot have access to contraception until they are 16 without the consent of their parents or guardian”, the organisations say in their letter to deputies.

If the law is adopted, committing a sexual act with a person under the age of 16 would be punishable with imprisonment between 7 and 12 years.

If it is established that the sexual intercourse was the result of sexual coercion, the person would face up to 15 years in prison. If the adult offender is a family member or carer of the minor, or if the victim’s life has been endangered, the maximum penalty is 18 years.

„Any normal person would support this amendment”

PSD MP Diana Tușa, one of the supporters of a minimum age of consent, told PRESShub that this law is absolutely necessary for Romania.

„This is exactly the amendment I tabled to this draft law with other colleagues. It is more than necessary, if we look at the statistics of recent years in terms of the number of underage mothers, where we lead the way in Europe.

It is more than necessary if we look at child trafficking and human trafficking, which is why we felt that our country also needs to align its legislation with other European countries and protect our children up to the age of 16″

Diana Tușa, PSD MP

Diana Tușa also explained that a minor under the age of 16 is not capable of making a rational decision when it comes to what this act involves.

„There are many studies done at European and international level which have clearly shown that a minor, up to the age of 16, has no way of giving consent because he or she does not have the experience, the necessary information, the brain does not have the capacity to make certain connections in order to give informed consent. I think any normal person would support this amendment. Each of us has children and it is essential that they are protected”, declared Diana Tușa for PRESShub.

PRESShub tried to get a response on the delay in the adoption of the draft from the President of the Chamber of Deputies Marcel Ciolacu, but also from MPs Sorin Grindeanu and Alfred Simonis, who, according to PRESShub sources, are among the most vehement opponents of the age of consent.

Although we called and left them messages, none of them responded.

All three were asked their position on raising the minimum age of sexual consent, but did not wish to answer.

1,011 girls were sexually assaulted

92% of the victims of accused persons prosecuted in 2022 for rape, sexual assault or sexual act with a minor are women. (215 women and 1011 girls), according to a study published by the Filia Center.

The data also show that last year 1,773 cases of rape were solved, but 75% of them were closed. Out of a total of 2125 cases solved concerning sexual acts with a minor, 1240 of them were closed.

2628 rape cases, 1648 sexual assault offences and 4445 cases related to sexual acts with a minor were listed as unsolved at the end of 2022.

Citiți varianta în limba română: Deputații amână nejustificat adoptarea legii prin care se consideră viol orice act sexual cu un minor sub 16 ani


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Bianca Iosef
Bianca Iosef
Bianca Iosef a terminat Facultatea de Jurnalism și Științele Comunicării din cadrul Universității București în anul 2022. A început să lucreze ca jurnalist încă din timpul facultății și este interesată să evolueze cât mai mult în acest domeniu.

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