Members of the Romanian Government, Your Excellencies, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
It is a great honor to be with you this morning. I want to begin by thanking my dear colleagues, the Ambassador of France and the Ambassador of Spain, for their willingness to collaborate to sponsor this morning’s seminar. I also want to thank my colleagues, the Excellencies present from many embassies represented here in Bucharest. Together with everybody here this morning, your solidarity is important in raising awareness of this evil – violence against women and girls – and by raising awareness, we have a better chance of effectively combatting violence against women and girls.
For a very long time, particularly in the United States, this was considered to be a hidden crime, a silent crime. It took place inside homes and was often, as a result, effectively hidden from view. As Ambassador Ramis described, since the 1990s, there has been an urgent and effective effort to bring this crime out of the shadows into public view to combat it.
As my colleagues have said, this is not a phenomenon that is present only in Romania; far from it. The last two countries in which I represented the United States – first Timor Leste, in South-East Asia, and Aghanistan – the violence against women and girls was unfortunately very prevalent there too. The United States, in collaboration with its international partners, working with the local authorities, tries to raise awareness and take steps to combat crimes against women and girls. In my country also, as I already mentioned, this is a serious social, as well as criminal, problem, and at the national level, state and local level, efforts are being made to combat it.
One way to raise awareness of the issue is to hear the voices of the victims. The U.S. Embassy, through our American Corner at the National Library, in the recent past has compiled a series of interviews with young Romanian women who have had the courage to speak out and describe what has occured to them. These videos are available on the Violence against Women website, so I would encourage you to take a look at those and hear directly from those that have been affected by it, but we have also put together a small compilation of these videos for you to view here this morning. With that, let me turn it over to my colleagues and again, thank you for your presence and support.