Czech Government Prepares New Legal Definition of Rape

Acting after pressure from a vocal campaign and large-scale protests spearheaded by Amnesty International Czech Republic and local NGO Konsent, the government announced in April it would propose a new draft legal definition of rape which could be submitted to parliament in June.

"The current definition is based solely on the use of violence and does not cover all cases of rape," explains Klara Kadar from Konsent, one of the leading Czech women's rights organisations involved in debunking myths and misconceptions surrounding sexual violence and gender stereotypes.

According to the Czech Criminal Code, rape currently only applies to situations where the offender "forces another person by violence or threat of violence or threat of other serious harm to take part in sexual intercourse, or whoever abuses his/her inability to defend him/herself for such purpose."

As part of the Chce to Souhlas campaign and using slogans like "Respect is Sexy", activists have long insisted that violence or the threat of physical violence don't always play a role in rapes, and that the idea of non-consensual sexual intercourse is better suited to the reality of the act by taking into account situations of defencelessness or psychological dependence.

"The current definition of rape does not cover the two very common stress responses of the victim's body - freeze and fawn," explains Nela Pietrova from Proc jsme to nenahlasili ("Why we didn't report it"), a local student collective launched three years ago which publishes anonymous testimonies of victims and survivors of sexual violence.

"We all know fight and flight reactions, but more often than not the victim's body simply shuts down, and the victim is paralysed, unable to move, scream...

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