Government, NGOs launch own media campaigns against domestic violence

The latest Czech police statistics shows that a quarter of all reported crimes could be qualified as domestic violence. Nine out of ten cases of violence against women are committed in the home. Fifty percent of murdered women are killed by their own partners after being physically or psychologically tortured.

In four TV ads, made by organisations helping victims of domestic violence, actresses with painted bruises stand in front of the camera describing how they got their injuries - one says that she accidentally burned herself with the iron, another says that the clothes line fell on her. At the bottom of the screen, subtitles tell the real story - "it was her partner who burnt her with the iron; the husband used the clothes line to strangle his wife. These women are afraid to tell the truth - but this doesn't have to be the case," the caption says.

At the same time, the Czech government has launched its own media campaign alerting the Czech public to the phenomenon of domestic violence. It includes TV and radio spots, leaflets, stickers, postcards and even a computer game - as this campaign is targeting a specific age group.

Týraná žena
"We've chosen the target group of teenagers, of young people who are entering their first relationships, because we believe it is important to start in those first steps which may lead to the downfall, to the slide into real violence."

Jan Jarab is the Czech government's Commissioner for Human Rights. His office co-financed the campaign together with the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs. The graphic design of this campaign is meant to appeal to young people. The TV ads and the computer game show animated human characters in ordinary life situations. Once the rules of a relationship are broken, a computerised voice announces that the game is over and tells you to visit a special website dedicated to the fight against domestic violence.

"What we are showing here in the campaign aren't always clear-cut examples of "this is necessarily going to lead to that downfall", they are deliberately borderline cases. And they are deliberately borderline because we wanted a target group which will be able to say: "Aha, this could happen to me, or this actually happened to me because my boyfriend was so nasty to me last week but I still love him. So that's actually bad and I just have to tell him that he should not do this next time." Or: "I did this to my girlfriend last week, so that's actually bad and I shouldn't be going in that direction." If we really put very clear-cut cases of really open physical violence, then many people would say "that's not about us, that's about all these nasty people who are drunks and primitives, that couldn't happen to us."