Interior Minister Considers Vondrasek’s Apology For Rape Comments Sufficient, As Fallout Continues
Rakusan said he would meet Vondrasek yesterday as previously announced. Credit: vlada.cz.
Prague, August 11 (CTK) – Czech Interior Minister Vit Rakusan (STAN) told CTK yesterday that he accepts Czech Police President Martin Vondrasek’s apology for his remarks about fabricated rape allegations, published yesterday in the Pravo newspaper. Vondrasek’s comments were consistent with what the minister himself had said earlier, he said.
“I have read Vondrasek’s statement in today’s Pravo, and it fully corresponds to what I said earlier,” the minister said.
Rakusan also said he would meet Vondrasek yesterday as previously announced. “It is really not a special meeting, but a completely regular one. We usually see each other at least twice a week,” Rakusan said.
Vondrasek told Pravo that he was sorry if his comments had affected victims of sexual violence. He had previously said on the police website that he had not meant to downplay the issue of sexual violence in any way with his remarks.
On Monday, Vondrasek told the Spotlight program on the Aktualne.cz news server that women’s reports of sexual violence are very often fabricated.
“Very often, but very often, a woman’s report of some kind of sexual violence is fabricated. Very often. It’s quite often the investigative version, we have to check if what the woman is telling us is true. It has happened to me personally in my practice at least twice,” Vondrasek said on Monday.
He was criticised for his comments by lawyers, victims’ organisations, and Rakusan, who told Impuls radio, “It’s an unfortunate statement, precisely because Martin Vondrasek, as police president, promotes the education of police officers at all levels.”
Rakusan stressed that anyone who was a victim of any type of violence should not be afraid to report the matter to the police.
Vondrasek subsequently wrote on the police website that his words “were not fortunate,” while also claiming that his statements were being taken out of context.
Vondrasek told Czech Television yesterday that he was sorry that he did not realise the impact his words might have on victims of sexual violence. He said that the police are aware of dealing with very vulnerable victims in the cases of reported sexual violence, and that 531 specialists underwent a course on listening to highly vulnerable victims. Last year, 9,000 police officers received training on dealing with domestic violence.
Vondrasek told the channel that he was not considering resigning over his comments. He said he has been working with the police for more than 30 years.
Government Human Rights Commissioner Klara Simackova Laurencikova described Vondrasek’s statement as unfortunate, adding that it is necessary to listen carefully to all victims of sexual violence and to investigate every reported incident very carefully. She wants to communicate with Vondrasek on this topic and cooperate with him more. Vondasek said yesterday that he plans to meet the commissioner by the end of August.
MPs Tatana Mala (ANO) and Klara Kocmanova (Pirates) expressed similar views. They noted that women overwhelmingly do not report rapes, mainly because they are afraid no one will believe them.
“Such an untrue statement really should not come from the mouth of the highest-ranking police officer in the Czech Republic, and I think it sends a very bad signal to the victims, who may be discouraged from reporting rapes because they are afraid the police will not trust them,” Kocmanova told CTK.
“Rape and domestic violence is such a sensitive area that it is essential to weigh words very carefully,” Mala added. “The fact that (Vondrasek) has encountered false reporting in his career says nothing about it being a common occurrence,” she said.
The Nesehnuti social and ecological movement has launched an online petition for Vondrasek to be replaced as police president.
“We do not want a police president who belittles, questions, purposefully misinterprets data and discourages instead of helping and protecting survivors of sexual violence,” reads the organisation’s petition. “That is why we call on the Czech Interior Minister to immediately replace Martin Vondrášek as President of the Police of the Czech Republic.”
According to Amnesty International, about 12,000 rapes are committed in the Czech Republic annually, but only about 5% of them are reported to the police. The police recorded 880 cases of rape last year.