BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — Romanian prosecutors said Tuesday they are investigating a popular singer's claim that she was beaten up by her manager-boyfriend after a dispute over money, prompting a rare debate about domestic violence in this conservative East European nation.
Alexandra Stan, whose 2010 hit "Mr. Saxobeat" sold almost 1 million copies in less than a year and reached the Top 5 in more than 20 countries, filed a complaint with prosecutors Tuesday alleging she was beaten by Marcel Prodan after she asked for her earnings.
Police spokesman Gelu Manolescu told The Associated Press that police picked up Stan from a roadside where she was arguing with Prodan and took the bruised 24-year-old singer to a hospital Saturday where she was treated and released.
Television interviews with the diminutive singer — who had black eyes and bruises on her body — were broadcast on national channels, shocking many Romanians and sparking discussions on radio and television about domestic violence. Attempts to reach Prodan by email and telephone were not immediately successful.
Stan went public with her claims this week after a message was posted on her Facebook account saying she would cancel concerts because she had had a traffic accident. The Romanian singer said her managers had posted the message, which she insisted wasn't true, and alleged that Prodan had beaten her.
Some Romanians expressed pity for the singer, though some wondered whether it all could be a publicity stunt. Vali Bejinaru, a 28-year-old fan, expressed the fatalism of many on the subject when he said: "I am sorry for her. I think she's a treasure and pretty. But what can she do if that is her fate?"
Police in Romania, a nation of 19 million, generally do not intervene in domestic disputes and tend to investigate only if the victim files a complaint.
According to the latest available national police statistics in Romania, 4,800 domestic violence cases were registered in 2010, as well as 99 fatalities. But those numbers are believed to be just a fraction of the problem in Romania, where many domestic violence cases go unreported amid societal pressure and beliefs that home-related issues should stay private.
In 2012, the Central European and Eurasian Law Initiative said one of its surveys had found that 800,000 Romanian women acknowledged being victims of domestic violence but that many did not report the cases to authorities due to feelings of shame and fear of the attacker.
As news of Stan's situation spread, lawmaker Remus Cernea urged for tougher legislation against domestic violence, while well-known commentator Mircea Toma criticized the Romanian media's coverage of domestic violence.
"The media treat this subject in a derisory way. A woman who is beaten is subject of irony, something sensationalist and the violence itself is not condemned," he said. "We have an archaic, patriarchal mentality, and it would be good for her to go all the way to get justice and a good opportunity for society to debate domestic violence."