Beyond the economic impact of sexualized violence and the Christian lobby

Sexualized violence is a dark stain on the face of Czech society, affecting the lives of thousands of women every year. New research presented by proFem and MindBridge Consulting presents alarming data on the economic impact and consequences that ripple through our society.
The research found that more than half of women have experienced some form of sexualized violence, while one in five women have experienced rape.

Although we often discuss the physical consequences such as injuries, research reveals extensive psychological, social and health implications. Victims face heightened sensitivity, lowered self-esteem and even chronic illnesses such as depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. It is worrying to note that only 32% of the women who needed medical help actually sought it, which clearly shows the barriers to accessing the necessary services that exist.

National March for Life and Family, 27. 2. 2019, former archbishop D. Duka (photo by Hnutí Pro život ČR, flickr.com)

The cost of treating and caring for victims of sexualized violence amounts to a staggering CZK 2.3 billion a year (EUR 90.5 million). These figures do not include the individual costs borne by victims for treatment or care beyond the scope of health insurance. Most of the resources are spent on treating the psychological consequences faced by victims, which clearly illustrates the devastating impact of this form of violence on mental health.

But where is our society in this situation? Instead of taking the side of the victims and finding effective ways to tackle this epidemic, we are facing political games that, for example, prevent the ratification of the Istanbul Convention – the Czech Republic became one of the last EU countries to sign the Istanbul Convention (2016), but ratification has been pending ever since. Despite the President’s calls and the support of the government’s Human Rights Commissioner, we are still facing political obstacles to its implementation.

Groups such as the Christian Alliance for the Family, which oppose ratification of the Convention, represent a tenth of the population, but their voice is widely heard (“surrogacy is a modern form of slavery”, “adoption of children from orphanages by homosexuals is just a nice strategy”, “the need to end state support for ideologies that denigrate the role of the family and deny the natural uniqueness and complementarity of men and women” – read “Stop LGBTQ+”, etc.). The Senate, although narrowly (2 votes), rejected ratification of the Convention, putting political interests ahead of protecting victims. The rejection by senators, particularly from the KDU-ČSL (Christian and Democratic Union – Czechoslovak People’s Party) club, reveals the influence of the Christian lobby. It is unacceptable that in a secular state, religious-political interests should prevail over the protection of human rights and the interests of victims of sexualized violence.
(According to the statement of the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs of the Czech Republic (in 2022), the Alliance for the Family is represented in the working group on the Family Policy Concept. It has been cooperating with the Ministry since Marián Jurečka (KDU-ČSL) took up the role of Minister, and the Vice-Chair of the Association, Jan Gregor, is an advisor to the Deputy Minister of Justice.)

What can be done? It is time for the government to take responsibility and act.
It must take steps to raise awareness of the impact of sexualized violence on victims, ensure adequate funding for the prevention of such violence and, most importantly, ensure the availability of specialist services for victims. In order to minimize further traumatization and to ensure that the assistance provided is as sensitive and professional as possible, education of all professions that come into contact with victims is essential.
Let us not forget that behind every statistic there is a human fate, each digit signifying a life filled with pain and suffering. It is our moral and human duty to act and promote changes that will improve the lives of those who are vulnerable and need our help and protection.

Discussion in society and putting pressure on political leaders are key to ensuring a safer future for all citizens of the Czech Republic.
Let us open our eyes and hearts, be reasonable, and oppose violence in all its forms.

Member of Guerrilla Skepticism on Wikipedia & Czech Skeptics' Club Sisyfos, founding member of the Meaning of (Skeptical) Life podcast, secular humanist. Father of one new man. Television post-production by profession. And he is on BigPharma and Soros payroll.