Violence Against Women in the Czech Republic
Czech Republic
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Population of women: 5,363000 /10,534,000
Life expectancy of women (at birth): 81
School life expectancy: 16
Unemployment of women:
5.6%
Women engaged in economic activity: 48.8%

Source: U.N. Statistics Division, Social Indicators, updated January 2012

 

last updated February 2012

The Czech Republic, as an independent state, became a member of the United Nations on 19 January 1993 and has continued its enforcement of obligations arising from conventions obligatory for the Czechoslovak Republic, including the protection of human rights. On 1 May 2004 the Czech Republic became a member of the European Union.

Domestic violence

Domestic violence encompasses violence between partners- current or former, in married or unmarried cohabitation (National Action Plan for the Prevention of Domestic Violence). Domestic violence against women is considered a serious problem and international law regulations, adopted by the Czech Republic, have declared it unacceptable. A research study in 2003 found that in the Czech Republic, 38% of women have some experience with different forms of domestic violence during their lives. (Institute of Sociology of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, 2003) Interior ministry statistics indicate that in the first eight months of 2010 there were 407 reported cases of domestic violence and 220 of those cases were prosecuted (U.S. Department of State 2010 Human Rights Report: Czech Republic).

The Committee for the Prevention of Domestic Violence of the Government Council for Equal Opportunities for Women and Men was established on 1 January 2008 and issued the National Action Plan for the Prevention of Domestic Violence for the Years 2011-2014. The Plan proposes measures for improvement in many areas including, but not limited to, supporting persons endangered by domestic violence, working with violent persons, society and domestic violence, and legislation.

The Czech Republic adopted domestic violence legislation Act. No. 135/2006 Coll. in March of 2006. The Criminal Code was amended in 2004 to include Section 215a, the crime of abuse of a person living in the same residence. Police have received some training in working with domestic violence cases, and under the 2009 Act Law on Police No. 273/2008 Coll., police are permitted to exclude the perpetrator of domestic violence from the residence for a period of 10 days. (See the U.S. Department of State 2010 Human Rights Report: Czech Republic and NGO Against Domestic Violence). According to the U.S. Department of State 2010 Country Reports, in the Czech Republic, domestic violence offenders may face up to three years in prison, with increased sentences for aggravated assaults (U.S. Department of State 2010 Human Rights Report: Czech Republic).

The Government of the Czech Republic admitted that domestic violence was a form of violation of women’s human rights in a reaction to critics of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women by publishing the Report of the Czech Republic about the fulfillment of the Declaration on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women, and by introducing Government Decree No. 236 from 8. 4. 1998 “Priorities and Procedures for Promoting of Gender Equality”.  The task of combating violence against women becomes a part of “Priorities and Procedures for Promoting of Gender Equality” on an annual basis.

The problem of domestic violence was addressed by NGOs ROSA, proFem, Gender Studies, La Strada and Elektra in 1995.  They established a Coordinated Circle for prevention of violence against women. In 2003 Rosa organized a campaign of ten NGOs called the Campaign against Domestic Violence against Women, which aimed to inform about domestic violence through media. In 2010 Rosa launched another campaign, “Come in Time,” to provide information and professional help to female victims of domestic violence. NGOs interested in the problem of domestic violence decided on a cooperative basis to establish a campaign for the Coalition of Organisations against Domestic Violence (KOORDONA). Another coalition of organizations is the Alliance of Domestic Violence, organized by Bílý kruh bezpecí (White Circle of Safety).  

Gender equality

The Czech Government has been interested in gender equality since 1997 when it began to assert the Beijing platform of action. This obligation was confirmed in the 23rd session of United Nations General Assembly in New York in 2000. In 1998, the Council of Government for Equal Opportunities for Men and Women was established as an advisory authority of the Czech Government

Gender equality is ensured by the Constitution of the Czech Republic. A large number of laws prohibiting gender discrimination arise from the Constitution (e.g. Labour law, which prohibits any discrimination based on gender).  

Men and women have equal rights in family and property. According to Eurostat data for the second quarter of 2010, women were employed at a rate of 56.1% and make up 42.7% of the current workforce, but their salaries are 26% lower than men’s on average (U.S. Department of State 2010 Human Rights Report: Czech Republic).

Rape

According to updated § 241 of the Criminal Code, rape is a crime which can be committed on women and men. Certain practices other than sexual intercourse by perpetrators are also considered rape. The aim of updating the Criminal Code was to supersede an unacceptable advantage of perpetrators who commit rape in a way other than sexual intercourse, and to prosecute rape regardless the sex of the victim. Rape is punishable by sentences of two to 15 years in prison (U.S. Department of State 2010 Human Rights Report: Czech Republic).

Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment is behavior which the victim feels is annoying and obtrusive. This definition of sexual harassment was enacted by the Czech legislature in Labour law (No. 46/2004 in 2004), in connection with its entrance into the European Union. Sexual harassment is a continuous problem in the field of employment in the Czech Republic because the law is unenforced (U.S. Department of State 2010 Human Rights Report: Czech Republic). According to 2005 research led by the Gender and Sociology team of the Sociological Institute of the Czech Academy of Science, with support of the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, sexual harassment of women occurs most frequently from co-workers with a marked use of power. Fundamental changes effected by this new law are the legal regulation of the term of sexual harassment and taking into account this type of discrimination in labor-law relationships.  Because the definition of sexual harassment as a discriminated behavior falls under civil law, the burden of proof is on the accused, who has to prove his/her innocence. 

In Czech society, sexual harassment is often perceived as an overestimated problem which occurs in private relationships between individuals rather than in the public sphere. One- quarter of the working respondents of a research study (http://www.genderonline.cz/view.php?cisloclanku=2006020607) have personally or implicitly experienced sexual harassment. Women faced sexual harassment 28% more frequently than men. Men who were superior to women in the ranks of employment were usually the initiators of sexual harassment. In these cases, the sexual harassment included: sexually-oriented comments (10.9%), unwanted bodily contact (16 %), asking for a date without victim’s interest (21.2 %), sexual proposals (22.6 %) and assault (30 %).

Trafficking in persons

Trafficking in persons for purposes of sexual exploitation is defined as hiring, detaining, transporting or delivering a person for the purpose of sexual industry. Trafficking in persons is considered a serious violation of the human rights of victims. It affects human dignity, freedom of movement, the right of privacy and self-determination and contradicts principles stated in all significant international documents concerning human rights. These include especially the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), Convention on the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (1950), International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966), Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (1979), Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989)  and the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography (2000). The United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime adopted in Palermo, Italy on 13 December 2000, was a significant achievement in the combating of trafficking. This Convention is accompanied by a Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, which was signed by the Czech Republic on 10 December 2002.

Trafficking in persons continues to be one of the largest problems faced by the Czech Republic. The Czech Republic was originally a source country but it has been changed to a transit and destination country for victims of trafficking in persons.  The sexual industry in the Czech Republic generates $760 million (Hall, The Age, 11 December 2008). The main condition for the existence of the sexual industry is trafficking in persons. An amendatory act, Criminal Code No. 573/2004, was a significant change in Czech law. According to this act, culpability was expanded to slavery, servitude, forced labour and other forms of exploitation. The Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Czech Republic cooperates with NGOs under the National Strategy of Combating Trafficking in People to support and protect of victims of trafficking (Ministry of the Interior of the Czech Republic ). In 2010 the Czech government provided NGOs with over $397,000 in aid for trafficking victims (2011 US Government Trafficking in Persons Report).

The Czech Republic does not meet European Union minimum standards for elimination and prevention of trafficking, but it is working toward better and more comprehensive trafficking laws (2011 US Government Trafficking in Persons Report). The most recent effort in combating trafficking was the adoption of the National Strategy to Combat Trafficking in Human Beings for the period of 2008-2011 and the Programme of Support and Protection of Human Trafficking Victims (http://www.bayefsky.com/pdf/czechrepublic_t4_cedaw_47.pdf).