Violence against women who take part in elections is poorly acknowledged, study

 Violence against women who take part in elections is poorly acknowledged, study

In Moldova, the phenomenon of violence against women who take part in elections is poorly acknowledged. This is met in different forms and the most spread form is verbal violence. This is the conclusion of the authors of a study carried out by the Women for Contemporary Society Association in partnership with the Gender Equality Platform.

In a 
news conference at IPN, secretary general of the Gender Equality Platform Nina Lozinski said there were conducted a series of questionnaire-based interviewed with candidates who run in elections and electoral activists (observers, members of electoral staffs, functioning of electoral bodies, trustworthy persons of candidates). According to the respondents, 40% of the candidates in election campaign met with use of violence and 49% of the electoral activists were subject to aggression, messages of hatred and violence. 86% of the candidates represented parties, while 14% were independent.

51% of those surveyed were witnesses to cases of use of violence in elections against other women participating in the electoral process, but only 16% reported these. The cases of violence were reported first of all to party colleagues, the president of the electoral office, the Central Election Commission, the police, the council for the prevention and elimination of discrimination and ensuring of equality. Asked if they themselves used violence against candidates, 7% of the respondents answered affirmatively. The used forms of violence included verbal violence – 80% and physical aggression - 20%.

The study reveals four forms of violence against female candidates: verbal – 52% of the recorded cases; psychological – 37%, economic – 8% and physical - 3%. According to Nina Lozinski, the higher the position to which a women aspires is, the more serious the forms of violence are, with different forms of intimidation being applied. In the case of female activists, the form of physical violence wasn’t noticed, but verbal violence represented 64%, while the psychological one – 31% and the economic one – 5%. There are cases when the women weren’t remunerated for their work. The platform’s secretary said the female activists are most often subjected to violence at electoral offices.

President of the Gender Equality Platform Olga Bîtcă said a woman who takes part in the elections can be subjected concomitantly to several forms of violence. Womens’ confessions show the cases of sexism, harassment, attack and exclusion are most often met. The female candidates are often told to give up. A TV channel, advertising the debates that were to start, used the image of a female candidate with empty shoulders, while her opponent was presented in a suit with a tie. That woman is often seen in a suit, but she was presented in a sexist way in order to question her credibility.

Another female candidate also appeared dressed scantily on some of the TV channels, in pictures that accompanied  news items about her. The most recent reported case involved the female leader of a party, who was presented walking with another woman by hand, with the two kissing. This is a case that discriminates and incites hatred, stated Olga Bîtcă.

The Gender Equality Platform noted the study shows the whole society discourages the women from becoming involved in elections. Fake news that misinform, manipulate and contain hate speech are disseminated and discourage women from becoming involved in politics. In electoral debates, there are no questions about the gender dimension and this is evident in the programs of election contestants.

The conference was held as part of the  project “Equal Chances for Women in Elections” that is supported financially by East Europe Foundation within the framework of the program “Civil society advocacy for inclusive and fair elections in Moldova, complaint with EU and OSCE/ODIHR recommendations and human rights commitments” that is financed by the European Union and co-financed by Sweden.