Steep rise in number of domestic abusers cast out of homes in Prague

A new law that came into effect this year, allowing the police to expel domestic abusers from their homes for ten days, appears to be bearing fruit. While four men were "evicted" in Prague in January, eight people have already been cast out of their homes this month.

The Czech Republic has undoubtedly declared war on domestic violence. For the first time, victims are not left on their own to build up enough courage to leave their abusers. Now, it only takes one phone call to give them ten days to clear their heads. Dr. Marie Susterova is chief coordinator at Prague's domestic violence intervention centre:

"It is mostly the victims themselves who call for help but there are also calls from neighbours and relatives. The new law has also been getting a lot of media coverage, motivating neighbours to report abusers to the police. Now they know that officers have the legal right to intervene and expel the abuser.

"The police have also undergone training and are now better at determining what constitutes domestic violence and what does not. I think in the first month of this year, they hesitated to take action. Now, they are more confident. Since domestic violence tends to escalate, the police also have access to a database that has details about all previous reported cases of abuse."

Victims are not alone during the ten days in which the abuser is banished from the home. A social worker from the local domestic violence intervention centre offers legal, social, and psychological support. In Prague, the centre also works closely with non-profit organisations, crisis centres, hotlines and people involved in protecting the rights of children as they are often forced to witness the abuse. Earlier this month, a young woman was expelled for abusing her 86 year old grandmother. The woman had a four year old daughter, who had to leave too as a consequence.

The law has clearly had a positive effect in the Czech Republic, where up to ten people die every year of injuries inflicted by domestic abuse. But it does have a few loopholes. One man, who was expelled from his home, simply moved into a flat in the same building as he owned the property. Dr. Susterova would like to see the law include one more clause:

"Victims often complain that their abusers are expelled but can approach them - without committing an offence - every time they leave their homes. In many other countries, abusers are not only expelled but are also prohibited to come into any form of contact with the victims. So, they can neither speak to them nor come close."