Building movements to address violence against women in Moldova

In Moldova, some 60% of women have experienced intimate partner violence.


One day before Orthodox Christmas in January 2013 Olyessa came to Chisinau, the capital of Moldova, from a village in the north of the country, to escape the extreme violence she and her children faced in her family.


"My husband was a heavy drinker. He was abusing the children. Often he would put us to sleep outside… so he was treating us very badly. We were all damaged from my husband’s treatment of us."

- Olyessa, Moldova


She contacted the Women's Law Center (WLC) for help. This not-for-profit organisation was established in 2009 to provide pro bono legal support to women victims of domestic violence and to advocate for better national laws on domestic violence. With the support of the WLC, Olyessa received protection, took her husband to court and eventually divorced him.


“While the court case was going on, Ms. Catalina, the lawyer from the WLC, used to call me just to see how I was and to see what I needed,” said Olyessa. “She helped me tremendously. Last winter I told her I had no food, no firewood, and we were just about to have our electricity cut off. So she got in touch with some other centres in the area ... who then came bringing me food like potatoes, onions and flour. The WLC also paid for my electricity and donated a stove so that I could cook for my four children. I also received psychological care and so did my children, which was very important.”


In 2007 the registered daily income of 80 per cent of the population of Moldova was below one US dollar per day. Although its economic situation has improved in recent years, Moldova remains one of the poorest countries in eastern Europe, with a high level of migration and great dependence on remittances. The root of this poverty stems from Moldova’s break with the former Soviet Union, and today is fuelled by high levels of unemployment, inadequate public services, lack of parental care and discrimination against women.


“Many women face great challenges that include legal challenges,” said Angelina Zaporojan-Pirgari, Chairwoman of the WLC. “They do not know where to go for help – the WLC fills that need by ensuring access to justice for women victims of domestic violence. Women desperately need protection, a safe place to go and a professional to guide them through the process, to tell them what their rights are and what they can claim in the court and how to protect themselves.”


With the support of the WLC, improved domestic violence laws and social services, women in Moldova are now finding ways to escape terrible situations. “I was never alone in the courts, the lawyer was always there beside me,” said Olyessa. “And now, it has brought me peace. I’m finally happy. I want to thank everyone who has helped me and my children. It has meant so much.”


Olyessa is just one example of many women who experience domestic violence in Moldova. Recent global figures estimate that 35 per cent of women worldwide have experienced either intimate partner violence or nonpartner sexual violence in their lifetime. In Moldova, this estimate is nearly double – according to a 2011 study, some 60 per cent of women have experienced violence by a spouse or partner.


For more information about building movements in Moldova please download our 2015 Annual Report.

© Sotis Balti Municipality Family Crisis Center

Source: Oak Foundation Annual Report


Year of publication: 2015




Oak Foundation commits its resources to address issues of global, social and environmental concern, particularly those that have a major impact on the lives of the disadvantaged. With offices in Europe, Africa, India and North America, we make grants to organisations in approximately 40 countries worldwide.


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