Violence towards women - can it be prevented?

Saturday marked the International Day Against Violence Towards Women. On the same day, the Rosa Centre for Abused Women in Prague issued a statement that the Czech government is not doing enough to fight domestic violence towards women. Alena Skodova has been following the story:

The term 'domestic violence' is usually understood as violence towards women, committed by men, although it can sometimes happen the other way around. Such violence can include torture, intimidation, sexual abuse, mental abuse, physical attacks, the use of weapons or even murder. Petra Svecova from the Rosa Centre in Prague helps women whose experience with divorce proceedings was so bad that it caused them psychological or health problems. Miss Svecova says that one of the greatest problems facing victims of domestic violence is that Czech law does not provide the possibility of removing offenders from their homes, and that there are loopholes in the law: Experts say that because the majority of victims usually remain in everyday contact with their offenders, this results in an incorrect, yet widespread view that domestic violence cannot be that bad, since women often continue to live with their tyrant husbands or ex-husbands. The reason for this, says the Rosa Centre, is that women who decide to leave their homes usually lose their family, friends or even their jobs. They face an extremely difficult task--namely, to lay the foundations of a completely new life. Another frequently heard view is that family violence should remain within the family, that no one has the right to meddle with any family's personal affairs.

A good example for how to tackle this problem can be seen in Scotland, where policemen, specially assigned for these issues, have special powers, such as entering homes without gaining prior permission from a judge. But what the Czech authorities can do about this problem remains to be seen.