The sexual scandal surrounding the powerful Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein has resonated all around the world, including the Czech Republic. Hundreds of women suffered sexual harassment in the past, including the Czech European Commissioner Věra Jourová, have joined the global initiative #MeToo campaign on social media to highlight the magnitude of the problem.
According to statistics, every tenth woman in the Czech Republic has been raped, but only about eight percent ever report the crime to the police and just two percent of perpetrators are ever convicted. Statistics also show that over 50 percent of women have experienced some form of sexual harassment.
Johanna Nejedlová of the non-governmental organisation Konsent, which focuses on preventing sexual violence, has welcomed the #MeToo initiative and confirms it has definitely had an impact on women in the Czech Republic:
“Campaigns, such as #MeToo definitely help women, because it has showed them that it isn’t just their individual problem, but a problem concerning all of society.
“So we have definitely seen an increased number of reactions on social media. Some women have posted just the hashtag metoo, some described their experience in greater detail.
“And what is important, they didn’t write just about rape, but also about minor sexual crimes, such as indecent exposure and molestation by their relatives.”
Johanna Nejedlová has also welcomed the involvement of the Czech European commissioner for gender equality, Věra Jourová, in the global #MeToo camp.
Jourová recently told a Brussels audience she had been a victim of sexual violence and called on women to join the movement.
According to Nejedlová, such message from a public figure sends a positive signal to all the women, who didn’t have the courage to share their story.
“One of the most common myths among Czechs, when it comes to sexual harassment, is that it is only committed by crazy people, usually at night or in some dark street. But in fact it is usually done by someone known by the victim.
“The other common myth is that the victim asked for it herself. People often think that these crimes are committed by people from different cultural backgrounds, or with lower social status, but in fact it runs across all ages.”
The NGO Konsent has recently launched their own campaign for victims of sexual violence, called Když nechceš, tak nechceš, which could be translated as No Means No, where people can anonymously share their experience with rape or sexual harassment.
The organisation has also focused on preventing sexual violence on social media and organised workshops for schoolchildren. Most recently, they launched an exhibition called Tvář znásilnění or The Face of Rape, which is currently on display in the outdoor ArtWall gallery in Prague.