Czech Republic lacks services for victims of sexual violence, says new report

A new strategy approved by the Czech government should establish four support centers and a national crisis line in the upcoming years.


Written by ČTK Published on 29.05.2021 09:43:00 (updated on 30.05.2021) Reading time: 2 minutes

Support services for victims of sexual violence are widely not available in the Czech Republic, and there is no centralized service or crisis line victims can contact, according to a new report from Women Against Violence Europe (WAVE).

This lack of support services is also mentioned in the new Czech national strategy for gender equality, which outlines government-approved measures for the upcoming decade. According to the new strategy, these services will be offered in four cities, a national crisis line will be established, awareness campaigns will be run, and punishments for perpetrators of sex crimes will be analyzed.

The aim is to decrease the number of unreported rapes and other violent crimes against women.

"Special services are absolutely missing, apart from those provided by nonprofit organizations," says Dana Pavlová, head of social services at proFem. "For example, crisis beds are totally lacking for special and at the same time available psychotherapy,"

Pavlová says the attitude in the health care industry is also counterproductive. It may even happen that a doctor or gynecologist rejects a request to examine a victim of sexual violence.

The WAVE report for 2019 examines the availability of these support services in 46 European countries. As sexual violence is a traumatic experience, a certain approach is required that should involve specially trained personnel. Services should also include psychological aid, therapy, legal counseling, and medical examination.

Currently, there are 96 beds in secret shelters for women in the Czech Republic, which means the number of recommended beds is just nine percent of the recommended level.

In the EU, the situation is only worse in Lithuania and Poland. There are two counseling centers for victims of sexual violence in the Czech Republic, just four percent of the recommended standard, the national strategy says.

Under the new government strategy, services for victims of sexual violence will be tested in 2023 and available in four Czech cities as of 2024. The plans also includes the training of teachers, inclusion of prevention education in schools, and analysis of the punishments for sexual violence.

Analysis from proFem examines 55 court verdicts from 2016 that shows that a large percentage of perpetrators found guilty of rape received suspended sentences. In most cases, the victim and the rapist knew one another, and the perpetrator was often a family member. The sentences were suspended because the perpetrator had a clean criminal record or because the child victim suffered no apparent consequences.

The government strategy states that up to one in ten women in the Czech Republic hae had personal experience with rape, but a vast majority of them do not report it to the police and seek no aid. About 600 rape cases are reported yearly in the country.

"Some people may feel that sexual violence is a marginal issue. But for young people it is becoming more and more important," Konsent head Johanna Nejedlova recently said during the presentation of the strategy.

A recent survey by Amnesty International and the Czech Women’s Lobby showed that a majority of adult Czechs believe that female victims are sometimes at fault in rape cases, either because they flirted, were drunk, provocatively dressed, did not clearly say no, had numerous sexual partners, or walked unaccompanied in dangerous places.

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