Human rights campaigners in the Czech Republic are lobbying the support of the country’s politicians for a bill which seeks to expand the legal definition of rape to include all non-consensual sex. Amnesty International, Konsent and other women’s rights groups are leading the campaign for this bill to come into force when parliament considers it after October’s general elections.
Rape=Threat of Violence
According to the legal definition of rape in the Czech Republic:
Whoever 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, shall be sentenced to a term of imprisonment of six months up to five years.
Campaigners of this new bill say the existing law is too narrow, excluding many scenarios of non-sexual sex which do not involve violence or the threat of it thereof. They say the law in its current state does not take into account defencelessness due to intoxication or learned helplessness as grounds for reporting rape.
Psychological dependence on the perpetrator is another consideration not covered by the law. Statistics show that partners, family members and persons known to the victims are responsible for 90% of rape cases in the country.
Low number of reported cases
Presently, out of the estimated 12,000 rapes committed in the Czech Republic annually, only about 600 are reported with an even smaller number ending in successful prosecution—78 cases in 2019.
They believe more people, especially women, would come forward to report sexual abuses if this definition is amended to include all forms of non-consensual sex.
If this bill passes, it would place the Czech Republic on the rather short list of European countries including the UK, Ireland, Luxembourg, Denmark and Cyprus that define rape as sex without consent.
An amendment to the existing legal definition of rape would also propel the country further in its compliance with the Istanbul Convention—having signed up to it in 2016—which defines rape as:
Engaging in non-consensual acts of a sexual nature.