En el foro end-violence se publicó este texto que puede ser interesante para tener una aproximación sobre la reforma de las leyes que se estan planteando en Bulgaria, algunas de ellas afectan directamente a los derechos de la mujer. De momento está en inglés... intentamos traducir al máximo el material pero no siempre es posible.

Rossanka Venelinova, M.D.
Executive director of
"Nadja Centre" Foundation

Dear All,

During the past ten years the whole Bulgarian society has come under radical changes. Part of them is legal reform, provided in the
Constitution of Bulgaria from 1991, with the legislative changes as its brightest accent. That is so because on the one hand the
legislative change is an expression of the social-political and economic changes, and on the other hand the imperfections and the
discrepancies reflect directly and most tangibility on the process of jurisdiction.

The main goals of the legislative changes are directed to guarantee the human rights and freedoms of the citizens, the principles of equality of the parties in the legal procedure, to secure efficient legal education, assistance and alternative methods for solution of their disputes.

There is no lack of fundamental ideas on these aspects. They have the ambition to observe the requirement of the European legal standards and to become closer to the European Union law. For example, the Fundamental Law (the Constitution) of Bulgaria keeps the principles of equality of rights of men and women (Art. 6); of protection of the family; the maternity and the children from the state and from society (Art.14); special protection of the woman-mother and of the children (Art. 47, p.2 and p.4); the principles of non-discrimination based on different race, sex, nationality, ethnic belonging, religion, education, political convictions, property
status, etc. (Art. 6, p.2) - without definition; the principle of physical and psychically inviolability (Art. 28, 29, 30).

Bills have designed for a new Family Code, Law for the Child, and there is foreseen to introduce quick procedures in the civil and penal trials, and the figure of the ombudsman is constituted.

Despite the democratic character of the changes, these changes are unsatisfactory in regard to the legal and real position of the women in the society. Although Art. 5 of the Constitution makes provisions for the obligation to incorporate international law ratified by Bulgaria implementation by Bulgarian institutions and courts is complicated because of different reasons such as the lack of good knowledge.

There are no guaranteed provisions in the law that cover in detail the problems of women, and some of them are not settled at all,
despite their alarmingly wide-spread occurrence like the violence against women both in public and private sphere.

Usually cases of violence are qualified as acts on Art.143 of the Penal Code.The procedure begins with warnings by police authorities (Art. 36 of Law of Police), which report very often, and serves to start preliminary procedure. But these proceedings come  to an end or they don't come into being very often because of lack of proof, and if the proceeding continues, aforementioned
provision allows occasional prosecution of the perpetrator.

In case of light and medium physical injury, there is a private action according to the size of the damages (Art.161 of Penal Code). As entity domestic violence is not qualified as a criminal offence. Besides this, its proof is connected with additional difficulties (Art. 57, p.4 of Penal Procedure Code) - the term, the burden of proof falls totally on the victims. And the procedure in accordance to Art. 261 of the Civil Procedure Code, as unique opportunity for protection of the victims (temporary measures), begins only in case of pending divorce suit. These measures have partial impact, because they can be applied only in case of pending divorce, but not during the marriage.

There does exist a concrete regulation for property retribution for the suffered women from domestic violence, although the authorities of the jurisdiction have a preference for its accent.

The general provision of the Law for Obligations and Contracts (Art. 45) troubles the victims with procedural requirements that are often too hard.to meet. The victims of violence, who live on conjugal principles, that is unwedded couples, are not protected by the law, at all.

We can draw a general conclusion, that the Bulgarian legislation settles inefficiently the questions connected with domestic violence. Naturally, this is explained by the lack of mechanisms and state structures, which does not create sufficient legal opportunities. More completely and detail statutory international obligations ratified by Bulgaria are not put in practice.

For these reasons the role and the efforts of  NGO are more and more increasing in this field.

Best regards,