Challenges facing feminism in post-communist Czech Republic
iDNES.cz - NovÃ½ zÃ¡kon pÅesnÄ urÄ?uje, co je sexuÃ¡lnÃ obtÄÅ¾ovÃ¡nÃ
NovÃ½ trestnÃ zÃ¡kon, kterÃ½ pÅijali poslanci tento tÃ½den, zavÃ¡dÃ trestnÃ½ Ä?in, kterÃ½ pÅesnÄ definuje sexuÃ¡lnÃ obtÄÅ¾ovÃ¡nÃ. Od ledna 2007 bude za sexuÃ¡lnÃ obtÄÅ¾ovÃ¡nÃ bude hrozit od 6 mÄsÃcÅ¯ do 8 let vÄzenÃ.
New law outlines clearer guidelines for the police and prosecutors and introduces tougher sentences (from 6 months to 8 years in prison).
"Reagovali jsme takÃ© na trend ve spoleÄ?nosti, kterÃ¡ sexuÃ¡lnÃ obtÄÅ¾ovÃ¡nÃ vnÃmÃ¡ daleko citlivÄji neÅ¾ v minulosti," Åekl hlavnÃ tvÅ¯rce zÃ¡kona Pavel Å Ã¡mal.
"We were also reacting to a new trend in society which is much more sensitive to sexual harrassment now than in the past," said Pavel Å Ã¡mal, the main creator behind the law. Up to know the offenses outlined in the law could be prosecuted under three different statutes leading to much confusion.
However, the law specifically excludes verbal harassment, which will remain subject of civil law or will be possibly treated as misdemeanor.
V prÅ¯zkumu, kterÃ½ letos zveÅejnil SociologickÃ½ Ãºstav Akademie vÄd ÄeskÃ© republiky, Åeklo 28 procent Å¾en, Å¾e se s "haraÅ¡enÃm" setkaly, vÄtÅ¡inou to bylo formou sexuÃ¡lnÃch narÃ¡Å¾ek.
28% of Czech women admits to having been 'sexually harassed', which most frequently mean verbal harassment.
Comment: This number seems very low and it is probably due to the bad press sexual harassment has gotten in the early 1990s from emigre intellectuals, most notably the prominent anti-communist writer and publisher Josef Å kvoreckÃ½, who even coined the term 'sexuÃ¡lnÃ haraÅ¡enÃ'. Å kvoreckÃ½ and others made a sport of citing allegedly spurious (or in their take ridiculous) sexual harrassment case in the US and Canada to discredit the larger feminist movement. These stories featured wronged men caught in situations which struck the 'Czech male' as very threatening. This was part of a broader (probably unintentional) campaign to discredit feminism and as a result of which there are relatively few women willing to admit to being feminists, usually citing 'it goes a bit too far' as a reason. Another reason could be the relative irrelevance of some of the issues that have defined Western feminism: right to vote (from 1918 in Czechoslovakia), right to work (duty for all and standard under 'communism'), sexual liberation (equally problematic for men and women), access to abortions and contraception (never a huge problem). The broader patter of inequalities both symbolic and in the access to resources which is very much present in the Czech culture is much harder to point to in the absence of some of the outward inequlities present in the 1950s' and 60s' West.
Another possible reason might be the legacy of the 'common enemy' in the 1960s-1980s (i.e. communist government) which 'oppressed' everyone equally and was actually engaged in some of the women liberation discourse itself (Simone de Beauvior was published in translation when many others could not be). This might have prevented women intellectuals from pursuing more radical lines of thought both for fear of splitting the movement and of appearing to agree with the despised government.
The unfortunate consequence is that today's Czech feminism languishes between the 'domestic equality' issues (i.e. 'it would be nice if the husband helped out more') and imports of Western themes. The 'natural division of gender roles' thesis is still the prevailing assumption in most of Czech thought. It is not surprising that in this intellectual climate, much of the otherwise fairly progressive gender equality legislation is not sufficiently enforced.