October 2, 2022

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Romania, convicted by the ECtHR in the case of a woman who accused her superior of sexual harassment

The European Court of Human Rights condemned Romania for not carefully handling a case of sexual harassment at work.

The victim, a woman from Timiş county, accused her superior, a station master, of harassing her both physically and verbally. The woman tried to seek justice, but after three years of investigation, the case was dismissed. Now, the Romanian state must give him 7,500 euros in compensation. In Romania, too few women have the courage to denounce such situations, and on the other hand, it is difficult to prove the fact.

The woman, now 52 years old, worked at the cleaning service of a train station in Timiș County.

At one point, she plucked up the courage and complained that she was harassed by the station master. She said that the man asked her to have sexual relations and because she did not accept, he assaulted her physically and verbally. And in some situations he became aggressive and reproached him for not doing his job well. In her defense, the woman had several audio recordings. In 2017, the case was taken over by the prosecutors, however, three years later it was definitively dismissed.

Cătălina Bordianu, lawyer:He probably made a criminal complaint about harassment, he tried with audio and video recordings and in Romania, in the framework of criminal investigations, this type of evidence is not unanimously accepted, on the principle that you do not have the consent of the person you recorded, but you are alone proof you can have.”

The prosecutors concluded that the man asked her for sexual favors, but did not put her in a humiliating situation, which would constitute a crime. It seemed to them that in the recordings she did not feel embarrassed in the discussions and did not resist. Although, according to the woman, she was put in difficult situations countless times.

ECHR decision

The European Court of Human Rights accuses the Romanian prosecutors of not taking the evidence into account. The ECHR report also mentions the fact that the victim and the aggressor were brought face to face, which should not have happened. Now, the Romanian state must pay the woman 7,500 euros.

According to the Romanian Police, in the first 5 months of 2022 – 152 women fell victim to sexual harassment, but there are also 8 men. Last year, there were 356 women and 33 men.

Andreea Braga, Association for Women’s Rights: “Anyone who wants to keep their job, this is where the reluctance of co-workers to intervene comes from. In the interpretation, including by some prosecutors or judges, it seems to show that the victim caused this form of violence through his behavior.”

Adrian Dan, sociologist University of Bucharest: “We don’t know how life partners, children, friends will react. We don’t know if they wouldn’t say: ‘Didn’t you do something to induce such behavior?’ Then we remain silent and are exposed to continuous sexual harassment because we think it is not so bad or the advantages or disadvantages are greater in our view at the moment.Eventually the indifference of those around us, of people on the street, of colleagues, who by their silence tolerate, are accomplices.”

Currently, through the Ministry of Family, training courses are organized for approximately 900 policemen, judges, prosecutors and lawyers. They should, in the future, support the victims of domestic and gender violence.

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