Women's rights activist: Feri trial has helped change society’s perception of rape victims

Johanna Nejedlová

The closely-watched trial of former MP Dominik Feri, who was found guilty of two counts of rape and one attempted rape and sentenced to three years in jail, has sparked a public debate on sexual assault and victim treatment in Czechia. I spoke to Johanna Nejedlová co-founder of Konsent, an NGO which focuses on preventing sexual violence and creating a safer environment for women, and asked her to comment on the verdict.

Dominik Feri | Photo: Michal Krumphanzl,  ČTK

“I think it is extremely important and a great signal to the whole of Czech society that even if the perpetrator is such a prominent person people should not stay silent and should speak about what they experienced. It is a message that rape can be prosecuted and is.”

Konsent has been striving for the redefinition of rape. Has this case underscored the importance of such a step?

“Konsent has been pointing out that a change of law is needed. Because there were other victims who dropped out of this case due to the definition of rape that is in our law right now. Had the definition been different, maybe the sentence would have been even higher and more of Dominik Feri’s victims would have found justice.”

This case has sparked a debate on sexual assaults and treatment of victims. Has the situation in Czechia improved as regards whether victims are taken seriously, and with regard to prejudices against them?

“I think the case of Domink Feri helped to change society’s perception of these cases. I remember that when the first newspaper articles on the case came out, Czech society was very critical towards the victims, it was very aggressive towards them and didn’t believe them, but as other cases of prominent people came to light the reaction of the public changed and I think it is much more supportive right now.”

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