Jul 19, 2023

Prague to Establish First Center for Supporting Sexual Violence Victims in the Czech Republic

Prague Morning

Prague Morning

Prague is set to become the home of the Czech Republic’s first specialized center dedicated to assisting victims of sexual violence. T

he facility, known as PORT, will be located in the Břevnov district and will provide essential services such as crisis support, treatment, counseling, and therapy.

The opening date of PORT is contingent upon securing the necessary funding. The organization aims to raise a total of 570,000 CZK over a two-month period, beginning today.

The Czech police receive approximately 600 reports of rape annually. Research indicates that only about five percent of these cases are reported.

According to the latest report from the European Network of Women Against Violence (WAWE), the Czech Republic lacks accessible services for victims of sexual violence. Notably absent are support centers and crisis hotlines.

This inadequacy is also highlighted in the national strategy for gender equality, which was approved two years ago and encompasses a ten-year plan involving the establishment of services in four major cities, as well as the provision of a crisis hotline and awareness campaigns.

“In recent times, there has been a noticeable shift in breaking the taboo surrounding sexual violence, at least to some extent: an increasing number of victims are finding the courage to speak out about their experiences, and many initiatives, organizations, and associations are publicly condemning predatory and violent behavior exhibited by prominent figures or individuals in positions of power. However, specialized services tailored to the needs of victims and survivors of such violence are still lacking,” emphasized Jitka Poláková, director of proFem.

Once operational, the center will offer comprehensive crisis support services to victims. These services will include access to a crisis accommodation facility, psychotherapy, social and legal counseling.

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In addition, basic medical care, DNA sample collection and storage for potential evidentiary purposes, and assistance with legal representation will be available. The facility will also include a designated space where the police can conduct interviews, if required.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Justice is in the process of preparing a proposal to amend the legal definition of rape, with potential revisions to penalties as well. Advocates for change include several members of parliament.

According to an analysis conducted by proFem, which examined 55 final judgments from 2016, a considerable number of individuals convicted of rape received suspended sentences.

In most instances, the perpetrator and the victim were acquainted with each other. Perpetrators included fathers, grandfathers, mothers’ partners, and classmates.

Reasons cited for suspended sentences included the perpetrator’s prior good behavior, denial of the crime, or the absence of immediate visible consequences for child victims.

Organizations that support victims have previously emphasized that the long-term consequences of sexual violence are evident in 90 percent of cases.

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