A new study by the Prague-based NGO proFem looks at the costs of domestic violence to the state budget. The authors of the survey took into account the costs of health care for victims of domestic violence as well as the expenses of the judiciary, law enforcement and social welfare systems, and found that domestic violence each year costs the state over 1.3 billion crowns. RP discussed the details with one of the authors of the study, sociologist Kamil Kunc.
“The main objective of the study was to show the impact of domestic violence on the state budget, as well as to show how serious the issue is if you look at it from an economic point of view, and we also wanted to show the hidden cost of domestic violence.”
When you say hidden cost, what does it mean?
“We don’t have data about how many treatments are provided for instance in health care, so these costs are hidden. Our objective was to reveal the costs in health care and other social services.”
When we look at the total figure – over 1.3 billion crowns – what is it composed of? How did you calculate it?
“We included all the services used by the victims of domestic violence which are usually funded from public budgets. We found that the bulk of cost is in health care – more than 545 million crowns, while police interventions cost 32 million and the costs of the prosecution is 7.7 million.”
“The costs are derived from gross salaries combined with the number of hours spent working on the case. In health care, it’s the value of treatment, and in other cases we used government statistics.”
According to your study, around 40 percent of Czech women aged between 16 and 65 have at some point faced domestic violence. How does that – and its costs – compare to other countries in the region or the EU?
“The data can only be compared with caution. The difference in the quality of data sources, different methods and different definitions lead to different results. For example, in Austria in 2006, the costs were 78 million euro [1.95 billion crowns] while in the UK in 2001, it was more than 5 billion pounds [156 billion crowns]. As you can see, the differences are huge and it’s difficult to say, really. I think our costs are comparable to those in Austria but it very much depends on how we approach the analysis?
How about domestic violence rates in general? According to a 2006 study, 23 percent of the population experienced domestic violence which was three percent less than 5 years before. So who do these rates compare to other countries?
“From another study – an International Woman Against Violence survey which covered some 30 countries – we know the levels are between 35 and 60 percent. When we look at the development of domestic violence rates in the Czech Republic, the levels are rather flat and there has not been much change.”