Romania, European Union, 2015: Seven Men Raped Girl. Punishment: House Arrest

INTRODUCTION

I am breaking the usual pattern of this blog to share with you one of the most outrageous things happening in Romania at the moment, in front of the closed eyes of the Romanian justice system. While I am no journalist, I spent a few days reading as many articles as I could, gathering data in order to put the story together as accurate and as exhaustive as possible. Also because I am not a journalist, my personal opinions will be all over the text but please, don’t let them bias you. Try to ignore them and form your own.

The reason I took the time to research and write about this in English is because I strongly believe it is a story that needs to be heard by as many people as possible. The more the exposure, the bigger the pressure for justice to be made. Please do help me share it, spread the word about it.

THE STORY 

It was the evening of N ovember 10,  2014. Raluca, 18, was waiting for the 6.30 pm bus to take her home to her village, Muntenii de Sus, located 5   km away from Vaslui, where she is going to high school. On that particular evening she had finished school one hour earlier than usual, therefore she was early for the bus. She decided to spend her waiting time sitting on a bench in the park nearby.

At one point, Silviu  Burada, 21, passed by. He lives in Văleni, which is right next to Muntenii de Sus, Raluca’s village. They’d known each other for quite a while, so when Silviu Burada offered to give Raluca a ride home, she accepted.

Silviu Burada was accompanied by another friend, Paul Burlacu, 28. Raluca was not suspicious at all until the point when they reached her village, Muntenii de Sus, but S.B. didn’t stop the car. When she became inquisitive, S.B. motivated his action by claiming he would drop by Paul Burlacu first, in Văleni, the next village, then he will return to Muntenii de Sus to drop her.

But this never happened. What actually happened was that S.B. stopped the car on an empty field near Văleni, where he called few more people: Silviu Avădanei, 22, Petrică Boloboceanu, 23, Ionuț Boicu, 21, Rotaru Alin, 18.

S.B. was the one that undressed Raluca against her will and the first to rape her. His friends took turns in raping her in all possible ways. She was begging each of them to save her but none of them had mercy.

When they put her in the car she hoped it would be the end of it and that they would drop her somewhere from where she could go home. But the beasts had other plans. They drove to another empty field and one more friend, Ioan Surleac, 20, was invited to join the party. Raluca was raped all over again by the seven men.

At one point she managed to get hold of her mobile phone and dialed the first number in her phone book. She only managed to scream for help before her mobile phone was snatched away.

Her scream for help was nevertheless heard by the person that was called and he alerted mutual friends, who then alerted the parents.

Raluca was raped for three hours straight by the seven men. She passed out several times and the rapists brought her back to conscience each time by pouring alcohol on her. Her passing out never made them stop, just threaten her to stop faking she was sick or she would be beaten. During these three hours there were 60 missed calls on Raluca’s mobile phone, from the worried parents, friends and colleagues.

The seven rapists only stopped when they had enough. They then put her in the car and dropped her home, warning her not to tell a soul or she would be in trouble.

She did tell her parents though and they took her to the police and to the hospital.

You might think that this is where the story ends, with the criminals being arrested and punished accordingly, like in any civilised country, part of the European Union even, in the year of god 2015, when robots are streaming life from Mars and so on.

Well, not exactly. The seven men were taken into custody, indeed. On April 9, 2015, the judge GEORGIANA MOLDOVAN placed into house arrest  three of the criminals, the ones that admitted to be guilty. Shortly after, the other four, who claimed they had the girl’s consent, were also placed into house arrest by another judge, VIOREL MUNTEANU. The motivation was that it is discriminatory to apply different treatment for the same crime and that NONE of the seven men represented a danger for the society. 

In the meantime, Silviu Burada’s mother, Dorina Burada, started a Facebook page where she was asking people to come and share dirt about Raluca, in an attempt to prove that Raluca was slutty anyway, and that her son doesn’t deserve to go to prison for “ten minutes of pleasure”. What’s worse is that the local people are indeed backing up the gang of the seven men. For them, the girl is guilty because she had sex with other men before, she accepted to get in the car with seven men and so on and so forth. A team of journalists went to the village to ask for locals’ opinions and their statements are amazingly ignorant and sexist. My two cents for them: even a prostitute can be raped. It doesn’t matter how much sex someone has on daily basis and with how many people. If you do not have that someone’s consent, you are raping her.

There is a lot to say about the two judges, GEORGIANA MOLDOVAN and VIOREL MUNTEANU. They have been, obviously, bought. Romania is a country where everything has a price, from a driver’s licence to someone’s life. Romania is the country where politicians are paid peanuts yet they have fabulous fortunes. Romania is the country where a huge number of senators, ministers and mayors are under investigation or under arrest, while still being senators, ministers and mayors.

The proof the two judges have been bought lies in the very fact they both changed jobs and towns. While VIOREL MUNTEANU was promoted, GEORGIANA MOLDOVAN took a different path and she is now a teacher for court clerks and jurists.

THE FOLLOW-UP

Source: Adevarul.ro

Source: Adevarul.ro

The local press kept writing on this matter and the articles were mostly prompted not by the faulty justice (quite common in Romania) but by the cocky behaviour of the rapists when waiting for the hearings. Always smiling and acting confident, swearing at the journalists, even threatening them to run them over with their cars.

This inconsistency between the crime and the behaviour was what attracted the national mass media attention. Articles in the national press started to flow and more people learned about the horrible rape.

On July 20, Adevarul started a national campaign, “Dreptate pentru fata violată din Vaslui” (Justice for the raped girl in Vaslui) to raise awarness.

As a result, people started showing support through Facebook and the president and the prim minister were requested to react. Facebook’s platform is used to organise a street protest against the decision to place the seven criminals in house arrest.

What is more important is that previous victims are coming forward and we are utterly disgusted to discover how many girls were raped and their rapists were not punished or they were lightly punished.

Also, a very popular talk show, that in their blind chase for audience disclosed Raluca’s identity, might be fined or even cancelled. I wish for the latter, that show is insensitive and filthy.

I do hope all this noise is not for nothing.

I want the bastards to rot in jail, where they belong, I want the two judges to be held responsible, severely fined and punished, fired with an interdiction to ever work in any field related to justice and made to pay a hell  lot of money to Raluca.

I want judges to learn a lesson and think twice when selling verdicts.

I want victims not to let themselves intimidated and find the power to come forward.

I want the families of the victims to give all their support and persuade the victims come forward.

I want the media to put this kind of pressure on all wrong doings because this is what media is for.

I want people to back up with the media and use their voice until they are heard.

I know that even if all this is done, wrong will not always be corrected but at least we can show we are awake and we can stand for one another if the case. We can attempt to show that Romania is OURS not THEIRS.

But most of all I wish with all my heart for Raluca to be able to find her strength and slowly overcome this. It will be a long, painful process, I am sure of it. Healing your soul takes a lot of time and energy.

But, Raluca, this rape doesn’t define you or who you will become. Stay strong. You are above this.

L’Autre in Mayfair

I didn’t do much this weekend, except for a few chores, writing, resting and watching Netflix. Oh, and I started listening to a new book on Audible, Life After Life by Kate Atkinson.

On Friday I ran from one job to another and I hardly managed to squeeze a coffee&cake break between bookings. My lunch consisted in Tesco sandwiches, for Lord’s sake.

In the evening we took Mayfair, had  drinks in a small Italian place and then, hungry as could be, we started wandering around looking for something to our liking. And there it was, a Mexican Polish place called L’Autre. Intrigued, we stepped in, got us a table and asked for the menu. I ordered chicken enchiladas and boyfriend ordered kielbasa.
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While waiting, we asked for the story behind this rather unusual combo and apparently, at first it was a French bistro, hence the name, but it didn’t go that well so they changed the cuisine into Mexican while keeping the French name. Later on, they hired a Polish and decided to go on with both cuisines. Brilliant idea, if you ask me.

Please do stop at L’Autre if in Mayfair. Lots of character and good food from two continents, all very well cooked. What a gem, isn’t it?

What am I working on at the moment and a great sushi place in London

I am working on this awesome project for Global Citizen Blog where I am a contributor, when I am not a nanny or an interpreter, that is :)

Romania celebrates Children’s Day on the 1st of June and I dared my Romanian friends to share the highlights of their childhoods with me.

It was quite interesting to observe the process. At first they were like: “hmmm, ok, but I don’t remember much…let me see, maybe tomorrow, I am not good with writing, you know…”

After countless reassurances from me that they would do fine and a couple of paragraphs would suffice and that I would do the literary arrangements upon translating anyway, they sat down to work. Almost all of them ended up writing one paragraph after another after another, formed of words of incredible emotional power, as if a door to something magic was opened by my dare.

The writings were sent to me with messages like: “writing this made me cry” or “I should have been nicer to my grandparents” or “I miss being a child” and so on and so forth.

All in all, I am happy with the results so far. I am now translating the stories and trying to put the material together. If all goes well, it should be published on Monday. I will keep you posted, I am sure you all like a walk down the memory lane, don’t you? :)

Meanwhile, you can read some of my old articles on Global Citizen Blog: I Travel, Therefore I am and  My Country, My Grandma. These two are my personal favourites of the lot.

As for today, due to a cancelled interpreting booking (I still get paid, though), I ended up having lunch with boyfriend. I was craving sushi and he suggested this little gem at Piccadilly Circus, at 61 Brewer Street. Taro is a tiny place that looks more like a canteen than a restaurant but I love the worn out look on shops and eateries. It somehow gives me a sense of authenticity and a feeling that the owners are more concerned with the quality of food than with the interiour design. And the quality of food is precisely the reason I eat out.

And boy, don’t they cook fine! I had Chicken Gyoza (grilled chicken dumpling filled with veggies in Japanese style) and Tempura Sushi Roll with a nice sauce on the side and I must say it was the best sushi I ever had so far.
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Boyfriend had this thing below but I forgot the name. And it looks just like it tastes: DELICIOUS.

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I am sorry I can’t say more about the food, I am no food blogger, as you can see. I don’t know how to critique food, I can only say if it was good and if I would go back to Taro again. And the answers are YES and YES :)

What other sushi places do you recommend in London?

Thought of the day, advice of the day and a nice pop-up for you in London this Friday

Living in London makes me think every day about how beautiful globalisation is. Things like a Romanian girl and a French boy sitting in a kitchen in London, eating guacamole and fois gras on oat crackers and tomatoes with cheese while speaking in English become so random that we will soon forget to notice their charm.

Also, how we get to know at least one person in pretty much every major city we travel in the world is also kind of great. Makes the respective place even more hospitable and fun, right?

Anyway, back to my very common life :) I had the day off today so I spent the morning browsing my local charity shops in search of hidden treasures. I found a shop with all books 50 p (what a bargain!) and I bought some, of course.

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Boyfriend doesn’t know how to cook and I am being understanding and supportive, meaning I am buying him books and dare him to try recipes. He has just accepted to do all the ten fish receipes in the Fish book by Rick Stein :) And this is how you get your man to cook, ladies. You are welcome :)
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I did some grocery shopping as well, I bought some essentials for my fridge and ingredients for guacamole, my new obsession.

In the bus on my way home there was this very sad, touching person, asking people for some change for food. He apparently had a sort of a mental health problem. He broke my heart in a matter of seconds. I rummaged through my pockets for some change, but I only had a couple of quids. So I opened the shopping bag and looked for a thing he could eat right away and found a yogurt can. Good enough. I got off the bus and then it hit me. I had some apricots as well, I should have given him those too, stupid me.

I can’t stress enough the importance of being kind to the less fortunate. While a couple of quid and a sandwich makes no difference for you or me, for them might mean a break till tomorrow when they have to figure out their next meal. I tend to be reluctant in giving money to people that look hooked on alcohol or drugs, but then I know how usually vice works as a coping mechanism with a very harsh reality. We must be selective and not support the begging mobs, yes indeed, but I think at an empathetic level, one can tell the difference from real and fake pain. So, give people. Please, GIVE!

Speaking of charity, what do you think of this pop-up serving cold tap water in Shoreditch this coming Friday?

“A new arrival joins East London’s trendy mono-food scene this week, opening on Friday 29 May for one day only. The pop-up, called H2Only Bar, doubles as a call to action by the Royal National Lifeboat Institution. It is promoting the charity’s H2Only fundraising challenge, starting at 5pm on Friday 2 June, where supporters commit to drinking only water for 10 days.

Taking stark minimalism to a painfully sharp extreme, the bar simply houses a single cold water tap, together with cardboard cups. Best of all, each drink is free – so you can get as many rounds in as you like while encouraging all your friends to sign up to the challenge.”

As for me, I continued my day with a cheeky nap in the middle of Wednesday and I loved it! I have such a long, busy day tomorrow. Sigh.

May you all have a lovely Wednesday evening :)

My long weekend and a lovely book for you to read

I didn’t go anywhere this weekend. Boyfriend went to the countryside in France and I stayed behind, to enjoy my studio flat while I still have it. My boyfriend and I are moving in together in three weeks time and I know I will miss my own space. We will be living in a one bedroom, but still, the days when I have the flat for myself will be few and only the loners can understand me :)

I had some Interpreting bookings on Friday, watched Star Trek Into the Darkness on Friday night (it has Benedict Cumberbatch in it and I had no clue about it, what a lovely surprise!), read a beautiful book on Saturday, booked a plane ticket for a weekend in Oslo in August and missed my yoga session because of a totally random nap.

The book I read is The Skeleton Cupboard by  Tanya Byron. Stories of crisis, sanity and hope inspired by the author’s years of training as a clinical psychologist. The stories follow not only the patients’ dramas but also the humanity of the trainee psychologist, her fears and doubts and her mistakes. For instance, before a patient dealing with panic attacks comes for his appointment, the author is asking herself: ‘What if I have an anxiety attack?’

What I have learned from the book is to embrace my weaknesses as they are only traits of my humanity and turn them into strengths. I am a firm believer in the possibility to convey negatives into positives with a bit of effort and a lot of will.

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On Sunday I went for coffee at Old Street. Shoreditch on Sunday morning is pretty amazing, so quiet and so still, after the Saturday night chaos. On my way home I stopped at a local Greek eatery in my neighbourhood for a Gyros and for some Greek language in the background. I miss Greece so much it hurts but I don’t think I am going to see it this year. We are debating between Greece, Portugal and Vietnam for our summer holiday and I am pretty sure Greece will not be the winner.

Here are some pictures of the Old Street. Always work in progress, this London of mine, eh? Do follow me on Instagram for more pictures of London.

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How was your long weekend?