Czech police chief issues apology for undermining rape victims

Martin Vondrášek clarified that he did not intend to downplay or trivialize the seriousness of sexual violence following contentious comments this week.

Expats.cz Staff ČTK

Written by Expats.cz StaffČTK Published on 10.08.2023 16:50:00 (updated on 10.08.2023) Reading time: 2 minutes

Czech Police President Martin Vondrášek has issued an apology following his controversial remarks regarding fictitious rape cases and claims that many rape accusations are fabrictated. He expressed regret and acknowledged any potential negative impact on victims of sexual violence. 

Vondrášek’s initial comments were made during an interview on the Aktualne.cz news portal's Spotlight program. He had asserted that women's reports of sexual violence are frequently fabricated, repeating the assertion three times. 

The head of police, citing official statistics, said that around 40 percent of all rape claims were “dismissed on the grounds that there was no suspicion of a crime committed.”

Widespread denunciation

His words drew criticism from various quarters, including lawyers, organizations assisting victims of violence, as well as Interior Minister Vít Rakušan.

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Rakušan expressed his disappointment with Vondrášek's comments on Impuls radio. He emphasized the importance of promoting education for police officers at all levels, particularly given Vondrášek’s prominent position.

THE FACTS

  • There are about 34 cases of rape every day in Czechia.
  • Fifty-two percent of people think sexual violence is common in society.
  • An estimated 5 percent of rapes are thought to be reported.
  • Two out of five adults have been victims of sexual harassment or violence.
  • One-quarter of people believe a rape victim is partly responsible if they were wearing "provocative clothing."

    Sources: Amnesty International, Beztrestu.cz

Lawyer Daniel Barton contested Vondrášek's claim that false rape reports are common and noted that, based on his experience, a maximum of 12 percent of rape reports could be considered fabricated. He highlighted that this proportion is consistent with false accusations in other crime cases.

Michaela Studena from the Pod Svícnem (Under the candlestick) group also criticized Vondrášek's statement on social media, referring to it as "a spit in the face of all victims of sexualized violence who have been secondarily victimized in police stations."

Police chief clarifies importance of rape

In response to the backlash, Vondrášek expressed deep regret in an interview with Pravo, stating that he genuinely apologized if his words had caused any distress to victims. He emphasized that it was not his intention to create such an effect. He clarified that his remarks should not be taken as downplaying the issue of sexual violence in any manner.

Amnesty International's data suggests that around 12,000 rapes are committed annually in the Czech Republic, but only approximately 5 percent of these incidents are reported to the police. According to police statistics, 880 rape cases were officially recorded last year.

Rakušan said he intended to address the matter directly with the police president in a meeting scheduled for today. Vondrášek's comments have ignited a wider discussion about the handling of sexual violence cases and the sensitivity required in addressing such matters.

DON't suffer in silence

  • Rape Crisis Network Europe is an English-speaking charity service based in the Czech Republic to help those who have been sexually abused or raped.
  • ProFem offers legal help, intervention, and online counseling in English.
  • Rosa centrum offers online chat, crisis prevention, and internet counseling.
  • Bílý Kruh Bezpečí offers a free, non-stop helpline for victims.
  • The 116 006 line has been serving victims of crimes and domestic violence in the Czech Republic since January 2015. It is available 24/7.
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