Credit: Andrea Spak.

Demonstrators in Brno Demand Justice For Victims of Sexual Violence

Around 150 demonstrators gathered in front of the Brno Regional Court yesterday afternoon demanding justice for victims of sexual violence, in response to a case in which a man convicted of repeatedly raping his stepdaughter received only a suspended sentence.

The man’s original three-year prison sentence was recently reduced to a suspended sentence by the Brno Regional Court of Appeals. One of the protest organisers, Dominika Sindelkova, said the sentence was inadequate and symbolised a flawed system that needs to be changed.

Representatives from several NGOs addressed the protesters outside the Brno Regional Court. Credit: Andrea Spak.

A similar demonstration was held outside the Ministry of Justice in Prague on Tuesday, attended by several hundred people.

The protest was given extra impetus by the Senate’s rejection yesterday morning of the Istanbul Convention, which aims to protect women from domestic and other violence. The Czech Republic will therefore remain one of the few European countries which has not ratified the convention.

The protesters shone mobile phone torches at the courthouse before proceeding to march through the city centre. Credit: Andrea Spak.

According to, the district court originally sentenced the girl’s stepfather to three years in prison for rape and child pornography offences. The appeals court, however, upheld his appeal and reduced the sentence to a suspended one, triggering widespread criticism. Last week, the General Prosecutor’s Office (NSZ) announced that it would review the case on its own initiative.

Around 150 protesters gathered in front of the regional court on Rooseveltova yesterday evening, carrying signs such as “Stop predators at large”, “Women’s rights = human rights”, and “Even three years is not enough”.

“Women’s rights are human rights.” Credit: Andrea Spak.

Sindelkova noted that the man was given a suspended sentence despite having abused his stepdaughter for several years. “We find such a sentence outrageous, blatant, and that is why we are here today,” she said, adding that it was a failure of the system.

“We need to talk about this together and that’s why we are here today. We want to show support for all survivors of sexual violence, we want to talk about it,” she said.

The protesters stayed outside the Regional Court for about an hour, with speeches from representatives of several NGOs. Afterwards, they shone their mobile phones at the court building, then marched across the city centre to the sound of drums and chanted slogans such as “We’ve had enough” and “fair courts”.

Regional Court spokeswoman Klara Belkovova yesterday outlined to CTK the reasons for the verdict. When assessing the possibility of a suspended sentence, the court took into account the offender’s confession, a certain degree of self-reflection, and his commitment to the rest of his family, who he could not support from prison. In its reasoning, the court described the case as a borderline case, in which the offender could still be influenced without serving a direct prison sentence. The court stressed that he would be supervised by a probation officer.

“Who is the court protecting?” Credit: Andrea Spak.

The man had asked for his sentence to be softened because he has a family to look after. He also faces several debt collection orders. The court upheld his appeal, taking into account his personal and financial circumstances. The girl’s mother, however, told that she is still sharing a household with the man only because her situation does not yet allow her and her other children to leave him.

The Pod Svicnem NGO fighting domestic violence organised a fundraiser for the girl, which raised nearly CZK five million in just a few days. The initiative will use the money primarily to ensure her housing and independent living.

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