Suspended sentence for man who raped minor sparks public outrage in Czechia

Victims-rights organizations are planning a protest to highlight the failure of the judicial system to deliver justice to victims of sexual violence. Staff ČTK

Written by StaffČTK Published on 19.01.2024 11:37:00 (updated on 20.01.2024) Reading time: 2 minutes

Czechia has come under scrutiny for its handling of sexual violence cases, particularly in a recent instance where a man received a suspended sentence for the repeated rape of his stepdaughter and possession of child pornography.

The Czech Justice Ministry is now investigating the controversial decision, prompted by an appeal from MP Barbora Urbanová. The Brno Regional Court's justification for its ruling, which pointed to the perceived absence of severe consequences for the victim despite multiple suicide attempts, has stirred public outrage.

In response to the appeal, Minister of Justice Pavel Blažek has pledged to scrutinize the case thoroughly, awaiting the court's detailed reasoning before determining if legal violations occurred. Simultaneously, the Prosecutor General's Office is contemplating filing an appeal against the verdict.

Initially sentenced to three years in prison for rape and child pornography, along with a compensation order, the stepfather's sentence was drastically reduced to a suspended one on appeal.

This case is just the latest of many where our judicial system is shown to be failing to grant justice to victims...even from the highest-ranking judges, we hear trivialization of rape. We have a complete lack of quality forensic experts, and victims of violence lack essential support.

-Victims' rights organization Konsent

An expert opinion claimed the repeated rapes had no "substantial negative impact" on the victim, contradicting the girl's ongoing struggle with severe psychological problems, resulting in her hospitalization for a suicide attempt.

MP Urbanová, a dedicated advocate for victims of domestic and sexual violence, is demanding an explanation from Minister Blažek regarding the court's leniency, particularly given the profound impact on the victim's life.

The accused man not only filmed the rapes but also blackmailed the victim, forcing her into sexual acts under the threat of publishing the incriminating material. The Prosecutor General's Office, acting independently, is considering an appeal after reviewing the verdict.

The perpetrator's request for a reduced sentence, citing family responsibilities and financial difficulties, was upheld by the appeals court. However, the victim's mother revealed that she remains with the accused solely due to her current circumstances, making it impossible for her and her other children to leave him.

NGO Pod svícnem is now working to provide the victim with accommodation and legal support, while also organizing a public fundraising campaign.

A demonstration is scheduled in front of the Justice Ministry on Jan. 23, led by Konsent and Amnesty International, highlighting the failure of the judicial system to deliver justice for victims of sexual crimes. Organizers argue that these instances reveal systemic issues and a lack of awareness among judges handling such cases.

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