Specialized center for victims of sexual violence opens in Prague
The first specialized center for victims of sexual violence in Czechia is due to open in Prague on Monday. The facility will offer victims psychological support and assistance, as well as short-term accommodation enabling them to take stock of their situation in peace.
The PORT center was established by the ProFem organization, which helps victims of domestic and sexual violence. The head of the organization, Jitka Poláková, says that a facility offering shelter and comprehensive support has been desperately lacking in this country.
“According to the results of our latest research, which has yet to be published, 20 percent of Czech women have experienced rape. This comprehensive help center is a pilot project and we hope that in due time other such centers will be created around the country.”
According to ProFem, one in two women in Czechia experience some form of sexual violence or harassment. PORT is designed specifically for victims of sexual violence, be it women or men, over the age of 16.
It should improve the quality of care for victims in the aftermath of such an incident, ease the stress of the necessary physical examinations, enable questioning in friendly surroundings and help victims to cope with the trauma experienced.
The center offers social and legal counselling, group and individual therapy, as well as space where clients can be questioned by the police and a room where medics who can conduct tests for sexually transmitted diseases and sexual assault evidence collection.
Victims can spend up to 7 days in the center, where they will have a small apartment unit with all the facilities including a washing machine, fridge and cooker. It affords space for a grown up with up to three children.
The center will open to the public on Monday, January 22. Clients can make an appointment in advance, but they can also come without an appointment. (Relevant information about opening hours and appointment options is available on the ProFem website.)
In establishing the center, ProFem cooperated with colleagues in Norway, where a network of such help centers has successfully operated for years. The initiative has been welcomed both by the Prague municipality and government officials.
The government's Human Rights Commissioner Klára Šimáčková Laurenčíková emphasized its importance.
“Last year alone the police registered 900 cases of reported rape. In 2022, 42 people were murdered in the country in incidents of domestic violence. We need to take this very seriously and address the problem both in terms of prevention and providing sufficient aid to the victims of these crimes.”
The PORT center’s budget this year is earmarked at CZK 18 million and, according to its director Jitka Poláková, it has not yet acquired the full amount. The Ministry of Justice, the Prague City Council and the Prague 6 municipality have all helped finance the new project and ProFem also wants to apply for money from other institutions, such as the Ministry of Health.