This article is from the Bulgaria FAQ, by Dragomir R. Radev firstname.lastname@example.org with numerous contributions by others.
Domestic abuse is reportedly a serious problem, but there are no
figures, official or otherwise, on its occurrence. The courts prosecute
rape, although it remains an underreported crime because some stigma
still attaches to the victim. The maximum sentence for rape is 8 years;
convicted offenders often receive a lesser sentence or early parole.
Marital rape is a crime but rarely prosecuted. Courts and prosecutors
tend to view domestic abuse as a family rather than criminal problem,
and in most cases victims of domestic violence take refuge with family
or friends rather than approach the authorities. No government agencies
provide shelter or counseling for such persons, although there is a
private initiative to address the problem.
Many of the approximately 30 women's organizations in Bulgaria are
closely associated with political parties or have primarily professional
agendas. Of those which exist mainly to defend women's interests, the
two largest are the Women's Democratic Union in Bulgaria, heir to the
group which existed under the Zhivkov dictatorship, and the Bulgarian
Women's Association, which disappeared under communism but has now
reemerged and has chapters in a number of cities.
The Constitution forbids privileges or restrictions of rights on the
basis of sex. However, women face discrimination both in terms of
recruitment and the likelihood of layoffs. Official figures show the
rate of unemployment for women to be higher than that for men. Women
are much more likely than men to be employed in low-wage jobs requiring
little education, although statistics show women are equally likely to
attend university. Women, in the main, continue to have primary
responsibility for child-rearing and housekeeping even if they are
employed outside the home. The liberal provisions for paid maternity
leave may actually work against employers' willingness to hire and
retain women employees, especially in the private sector.