Czechia to get hotline to help support survivors of sexual violence
Johannes Pleschberger in Prague

While more and more European countries are expanding the definition of rape and mandating stricter punishments for those found guilty, Czechia is currently dealing with something more basic: The country has decided to finally set up a support service for survivors of sexual violence.

"Verbal harassment and physical incidents happen every day here in Prague," 29-year-old Eli told CGTN Europe. "But I am not afraid."

The phone line (777 012 555) is a small glimmer of hope. For the first time, there is a crisis helpline for victims of sexual violence in Czechia, at least for two evenings a week. The proFEM group's initiative intervenes where it says the state has failed for years. 



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In fact, there are no support services for survivors of sexual violence in Czechia. There is no specialist agency they can turn to, and until now there has been no telephone counseling either, according to the European Women's Network against Violence (WAVE), based in Vienna. 

Czechia has the EU's third-lowest availability of women's shelters, after Lithuania and Poland. Currently, there are 96 beds in women's shelters in Czechia, which is just 9 percent of the recommended level.

As sexual violence is a traumatic experience, support should involve specially trained personnel, according to WAVE.

"I was maybe 15, I had this incident with a guy. He was naked in front of me in a tram – it was really not okay and I did not know what to do," 23-year-old student Emma Polivkova said at Malostranske namesti, a central square is Prague. Her example shows how a seemingly minor event can lead to trauma.

"It's nothing horrible – like you don't get hurt physically – but mentally, yes, since then I was really scared of any guy."


A new emphasis is being put on women's safety in Czechia. /CGTN Europe

A new emphasis is being put on women's safety in Czechia. /CGTN Europe


Czechia's government plans to test services for victims of sexual violence over the next two years and then make them available in four Czech cities from 2024. The plans also include training teachers, starting prevention classes in schools, and analyzing penalties for sexual violence.

"More women's shelters will be opened," the government commissioner for human rights, Helena Valkova, told CGTN Europe. "More social workers will be paid. Automatically, every year, the Ministry of Interior will pay for the helpline." 

But when asked whether the budget was sufficient, she was clear. "The budget is not enough of course."


Police said 600 rapes are investigated per year – but activists say the crime is underreported. /CGTN Europe

Police said 600 rapes are investigated per year – but activists say the crime is underreported. /CGTN Europe


A large percentage of sexual perpetrators found guilty of rape received suspended sentences, proFEM reported. In most cases, the victim and the assailant knew one another, and the perpetrator was often a family member. 

According to the Czech police, there are around 600 investigated cases of rape every year.

This number is a striking contrast to the government's own report which states that one in 10 women in Czechia, which has a population of just over 10 million, have had a personal experience of rape. But only a fraction of them turn to the police.

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