Domestic and Sexual Violence Sentences ‘Often Lenient’ in South-East Europe

The US State Department's global human rights report for 2022, published on Monday, said that in the majority of south-east European countries, perpetrators of domestic violence and rape often receive lenient sentences.

In some countries, the authorities also fail to properly investigate spousal rape cases, according to the State Department report.

Bulgaria is one of the countries where spousal rape is not a crime, although "authorities could prosecute spousal rape under the general rape statute, but rarely did so", the report said.

Bulgaria's law on gender-based violence was enforced effectively, but according to NGOs the law does not provide sufficient protection for the victims.

"The law restricts the persons who can report domestic violence to the survivor or the survivor's direct relatives and excludes friends and other unrelated persons," the report said.

"According to NGOs and the ombudsman, the law does not provide sufficient protection to survivors of domestic violence as it does not provide for prosecution of offenders for inflicting a medium injury (eg. a broken tooth) or a more serious injury, such as deliberately infecting a person with a sexually transmitted disease," it added.

Albania also had issued with prosecutions for spousal rape, the report said: "The concept of spousal rape was not well understood, and authorities often did not consider it a crime" despite it being illegal.

Gender-based violence was reportedly a serious problem in Albania. "As of September, police reported 4,136 cases of alleged gender-based violence, including other domestic crimes," the report said.

"NGOs reported high levels of gender-based violence, including domestic violence. As of...

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