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Prague Opens its First Center for Victims of Sexual Violence

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A specialized center for victims of sexual violence, known as PORT, is being established in Prague, Czech Republic, in the Břevnov area. The center, operated by the organization proFem, aims to provide crisis assistance, treatment, counseling, and therapy for victims of sexual violence. However, the opening date is dependent on securing funding. The organization plans to raise 570,000 crowns for the center’s completion through a two-month fundraising campaign that recently commenced.

Currently, the Czech Republic lacks adequate services for victims of sexual violence, with no help centers or crisis lines available. A recent report by the European anti-violence network WAWE highlighted this deficiency and pointed out the need for specialized services for victims. The National Strategy for Gender Equality, approved two years ago, included measures to establish such services in major cities and increase awareness about sexual violence.

Jitka Poláková, director of proFem, acknowledged the breaking down of the taboo surrounding sexual violence, with more victims finding the courage to speak out and greater attention being drawn to predatory behavior by public figures. Despite these positive developments, there remains a lack of follow-up services specialized for victims and survivors of sexual violence.

The PORT center will offer crisis assistance, psychotherapy, social and legal counseling, basic treatment, and evidence collection for possible legal proceedings. Funding for the center and four other facilities was provided by the so-called Norwegian funds, but additional funds are now needed due to rising construction costs.

Currently, the Ministry of Justice is preparing a proposal to change the legal definition of rape and potentially amend penalties, with some MPs advocating for adjustments.

An analysis by proFem of 55 final sentences from 2016 revealed that a significant number of those convicted of rape received suspended sentences. In most cases, the perpetrator had a prior relationship with the victim, such as being a family member or acquaintance. Some of the reasons for probation included the perpetrator’s previous good character, denial of the crime, or the lack of apparent consequences for child victims. Victim assistance organizations stress that the long-term effects of sexual violence are evident in the majority of victims.

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