The World Vision Romania Foundation and the VeDem Just association are calling for an urgent vote on a bill amending the Criminal Code, under which sex with a minor under 16 years of age will be considered rape regardless of whether or not sex is consensual, told Agerpres.
According to a World Vision Romania press statement released on Thursday, without the adoption of this provision, the courts will continue to judge the sexual abuse of a minor as an act carried out with the consent of the child.
The bill has received a favourable opinion from the Judiciary Committee of the Chamber of Deputies, and the next step is a final vote in the plenary session of the chamber.
Under the legislation in force, sex with a minor that includes intercourse without consent is considered rape, and the penalty is imprisonment between 7 and 12 years. The other sexual relations where prosecutors and judges consider that there is consent from the minor under 16 years old are classified as sexual intercourse with a minor, where penalties are lower: between 1 and 5 years (if the victim is between 14 and 16 years old), and between 2 and 9 years (for the victim younger than 14). Romanian courts rarely issue the higher sentences in such cases, World Vision Romania claims.
The bill amending the Criminal Code says that sex with a minor under 16 years of age will be considered rape regardless of whether or not consent is expressed by the child. The penalties range between 7 and 12 years in prison, if it is found that the victim has consented, and between 8 and 15 years in prison, if the victim has not consented.
The minor who is over 14 years old and who rapes another minor will be criminally liable. If the offence by the minor takes place with the consent of the victim under 16 and the age difference between the perpetrator and the victim does not exceed four years, the offence is not punished.
According to VeDem Just, Romania has been condemned by the European Court for Human Rights (ECHR) four times over the last seven years for the poor investigation of sexual abuse cases in which the victims are minors.