The Czech government has introduced a clear definition of domestic violence that will become effective from the middle of next year. The move aims to provide better protection for victims of domestic abuse. Currently, eight essential laws mention the term domestic violence, but none of them defines it. According to data from 2022, almost 30% of women and 12% of men in the Czech Republic have experienced domestic violence, with their partners responsible for most cases.
The new definition in the civil code identifies domestic violence as acts committed against a victim that has or may have illegitimately affected their physical or mental integrity, freedom, dignity, especially in the sexual sphere, gravity, honor, or privacy, or that seriously endanger or undermine their ability to meet their needs or the needs of members of the typical household. Domestic violence also includes the abuse of power or an unequal position. Victims of domestic violence may be persons living or living in the same household as the perpetrator, as well as close relatives or former partners.
The government hopes that the new definition will improve the protection of victims of domestic violence. The vast majority of cases go unreported in the Czech Republic. According to the government, only one in five cases of severe domestic violence are reported. Therefore, experts and politicians expect that it will be easier to provide more effective assistance to victims by unifying the definition of domestic violence.
The non-specific definition of domestic violence has been a significant problem for organizations that provide care for victims of domestic abuse. Authorities and professionals involved in the management of cases often interpret the term differently. Differences also occur within individual institutions, making it challenging to provide practical assistance to victims.
Branislava Marvánová Vargová, from the women’s center ROSA, said that it was crucial for the system to provide protection for all victims from the beginning and to be able to prevent the escalation of violence and serious consequences. Statistics show an increasing number of murders motivated by personal conflicts. Therefore, preventing domestic violence before it leads to severe consequences is essential.