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Criminal Protection of the Sexual Freedom of Minors. Analysis of the Main Internal Amendments in the Romanian Criminal Code

Ana Alina Ionescu Dumitrache
Last modified: 2022-02-25


Offenses against the sexual freedom and integrity of minors were amended by Law no. 217/2020 for the amendment and completion of Law no. 286/2009 on the Criminal Code, as well as for the amendment of art. 223 para. (2) of Law no. 135/2010 on the Code of Criminal Procedure, the criminal legislator draws attention to the negative consequences that sexual abuse has on minors on their emotional development, on their correct and healthy development, especially at the psychological level. The Explanatory Memorandum of this law highlights the states of anxiety, stress associated with the events they went through, learning difficulties or focus, dangerous behavior, sadness, etc.

The penalties for these offenses have been more severe, and it is considered necessary to align the sanctioning regime for child sexual abusers with the system of penalties established for such acts in the European Union. Last but not least, the justification of these changes was argued in the Explanatory Memorandum by the large number of final convictions in Romania for cases of sexual intercourse with a minor and rape of minor victims, emphasizing the change in the legal classification of acts sexual intercourse with minors under the age of 14-15 from rape, to sexual intercourse with minors due to lack of evidence of coercion of the minor to have sexual intercourse or his inability to oppose it. Moreover, Romania has lost all cases concerning crimes against sexual integrity and freedom with minor victims.

The age limits of minor victims of sexual offenses against them have been changed, from 13 to 15 years to 14 to 16 years, the age limit of 13 years has been replaced by 14 years; new paragraphs have been introduced regarding the quality of the passive subject that aggravates the facts, for example the aggravation of the offenses provided in art. 220-222, if the perpetrator is a person who has previously committed a crime against sexual freedom and integrity against a minor, a crime of child pornography or pimping against a minor.

At the same time, it was proposed that any act involving sexual contact with a minor under the age of 15 to be directly considered rape, without the need to prove the victim's inability to defend himself or resist.

The need to increase the minimum age for which such an act can be considered consent, from 15 to 16 years, was also argued.

In this article we will analyze the main aspects regarding the criminal protection of the freedom of sexual life of minors from the perspective of new legislative changes through the entry into force of Law no. 217/2020.