Prague march to highlight violence against women – and press for change
A march set for Prague on Thursday aims to show solidarity with victims of sexual and domestic violence in Czechia. The organisers are also demanding change – specifically for the Czech government to ratify the Istanbul Convention.
On Thursday at 5:30 pm a march will be held at Palackého náměstí in central Prague to advocate for those affected by domestic and sexual violence in Czechia.
The event will also aim to pressure the government to ratify the Istanbul Convention, a European legally binding instrument that aims to protect women from domestic and sexual violence and persecute offenders.
Some Czech politicians fear ratification could interfere with Czech law and put traditions and values at risk.
Thursday’s event is organised by Bez trestu, which works to provide accessible information about violence against women in the country. The group’s Lucie Hrdá outlines the aims of the march.
“Bez trestu is an organization that raises awareness about how the state in criminal proceeding is not giving any penalty, or very low penalties, to aggressors in the cases of sexual and domestic violence. We are organizing a march this Thursday at 5:30pm at Palackého náměstí, and this march is going to show the state and society that the people who are attending are supporting Bez trestu and the rest of us in our fight.”
As a lawyer, Hrdá specializes in sexual and domestic violence, and works as an educator to those involved in dealing with sexual and domestic violence cases, from judges in the courtroom, to doctors and nurses in the medical arena. Through her practice, Hrdá works to inform and de-stigmatise victims and address societal misconceptions.
“We still have a lot of prejudice about victims – the idea that victims are not very smart because they live with someone who is beating them, or maybe that they like it, and they return back to someone even after they report it. We call these ‘victim myths’ and I’m trying to explain these to the people and those involved in criminal proceedings that if you are the one who is deciding, or if you work with people who are victims of violence, you have to know about these myths and you have to catch yourself from repeating these myths, because it impacts your decision making.”
There are two ways Hrdá believes tangible actions can be taken to address the issue on a societal level.
“One is from the bottom, and that comes from showing that people in Czech society are aware and care about the situation, this why we will have the march. The second approach is from the top, meaning that politicians have to show the people that Czechia is not going to be the country that supports domestic violence. They need to show the people that Czechia is going to support the victims, not the offenders – this means we should ratify the Istanbul Convention as soon as possible and proclaim that Czechia is going to support victims of gender based violence, violence against women, and domestic and sexual violence. The government also needs to help fund the services that support these causes.”
For interested persons unable to participate in Thursday’s march, there are other ways to show support, says Hrdá.
“If you show on your social networks that you come to our march, this is one thing you can do because we have to spread the messages. Secondly, you can support an NGO that you trust, that helps victims for example. There are a lot of NGOs that help victims with some services. The third thing you can do is write to your senator or MP and tell them that you want them to ratify the Istanbul Convention.”