Romania - Social development

The Ministry of Labor and Social Solidarity administers a social insurance system. Social security covers all wage earners, while a voluntary system covers farmers. Old-age pensions are granted at age 65 for men and at 60 for women. Those engaged in hazardous or arduous work are eligible for retirement earlier. The program is funded by contributions from employers and employees, with deficits covered by the government. Workers who do not meet the conditions of duration of employment at retirement age are provided with social assistance. Survivors' benefits are payable to the spouse, father and mother, and brothers and sisters who are dependents of the deceased, and to children up to age 16. Workers' compensation and unemployment insurance are also provided.

All residents are entitled to medical care. Families with children under age 16 receive family allowances and a birth grant for each child. In addition to state social insurance, other schemes cover members of artisans' cooperatives, the clergy, and the professions.

The constitution guarantees equal pay for equal work, but women are still concentrated in low-paying professions. Few women are in senior management positions in the private sector. Women also face considerable employment discrimination in Romania's harsh economic climate and suffer from a higher rate of unemployment than do men. Violence against women, including rape, is a serious problem. It is difficult to bring rape cases to trial because the victim's testimony is not considered sufficient evidence; medical evidence and witnesses are required. Domestic abuse is widespread.

Ethnic Hungarians are the largest minority and are subject to discrimination. The Roma population continues to be harassed, and there are reports of anti-Semitic activity. Human rights are generally respected although there were continued reports of the mistreatment of detainees. The government has improved prison conditions and instituted vocational training, but prisons are still overcrowded.

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