Czech Republic: Resources, or recourses, available to women who experience sexual harassment in the workplace (1998)
|Publisher||Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada|
|Author||Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board, Canada|
|Publication Date||1 November 1998|
|Citation / Document Symbol||CZE30469.E|
|Cite as||Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Czech Republic: Resources, or recourses, available to women who experience sexual harassment in the workplace (1998), 1 November 1998, CZE30469.E, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6aae47.html [accessed 11 March 2014]|
|Disclaimer||This is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.|
No current information on the resources, or recourses, available to women who experience sexual harassment in the workplace could be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate. However, on 14 November 1996 The Prague Post reported that there was no legal definition of, or law against, sexual harassment in the Czech Republic at that time. According to a 28 June 1997 article from CTK, the Czech Republic might join a project that included sexual harassment components, which would be handled by the Employment Ministry. The Research Directorate has been unable to determine, in the sources it has consulted, whether there is now a legal definition of, or law against, sexual harassment in the Czech Republic, or whether the government participated in the project on sexual harassment.
Sources available to the Research Directorate indicate that the issue of sexual harassment has not received much attention in the Czech Republic as it is part of a culture where "the average Central European woman, pressed by today's harsh economic circumstances and inured by decades of communism when she had little recourse, remains unaware that there may be a way to fight sexual harassment, or even that she should" (The Dallas Morning Star 4 Oct. 1996). Few women affirm that they have experienced sexual harassment, as revealed by a Polish newspaper survey which showed that ninety-five per cent of respondents indicated they had never experienced sexual harassment. The survey indicated that similar results were found in the Czech Republic and Hungary (ibid. 4 Oct. 1996). In 1995, the director of the Czech Family Planning Association indicated her belief that sexual harassment is generally tolerated in the Czech Republic in contrast to Western Europe or the United States (The Prague Post 19 July 1995). She said that when she presented an American film on sexual harassment at a Prague workshop the women present indicated "that their feelings toward harassment are very different [than in the West], that they are more permissive" (ibid.). There have also been reports of "polarization" at workplaces when the issue has been publicly raised, with some people professing that the concern originates in Americans being "over-sensitive" (The Prague Post 14 Nov. 1996). Publicity around particular cases where employees were fired for sexual harassment led to "much controversy and disdain in local editorials and on talk shows" (ibid.). Moreover, as of 19 July 1995, few Czech companies had policies on sexual harassment or saw the need for policies (The Prague Post, 19 July 1995).
Nevertheless, the sources consulted by the Research Directorate reveal a growing awareness of sexual harassment in the Czech Republic. The Prague Post stated on 9 August 1995 that the Czech-based Central European Consulting-Centre of Women's Projects (proFem) was trying to raise the profile of sexual harassment by beginning "to draw attention to the issue and pressure governments toward legislative action." The organization itself "combats the problem on several levels; from assisting organizations in providing resources for women, to teaching women to establish and protect their individual boundaries."
The Prague Post reported on 19 July 1995 that sexual harassment charges were filed against a "branch director of Komerni Banka." In October 1996, the director was fired following a second complaint by another woman (The Dallas Morning Star 4 Oct. 1996). This was the first time someone had been fired from a private company for sexual harassment (ibid.). Additionally, two employees were fired for sexual harassment from Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) in May 1996 (The Prague Post 14 Nov. 1996). Following the firings, RFE/RL "hosted a week-long workshop focusing on sensitivity issues" (ibid.).
This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please find below the list of sources consulted in researching this Information Request.
Czech News Agency (CTK). 28 June 1997. "Czech Republic May Join Sexual Discrimination Project - Klaus." (NEXIS)
The Dallas Morning News. 4 October 1996. "European Women Speaking Up; Workers Long Accustomed to Sexual Harassment are Filing Suit." (NEXIS)
The Prague Post. 14 November 1996. "Sexual Harassment Emerges as an Issue in Workplaces Here." (NEXIS)
_____. 9 August 1995. "Profem Defends Women's Rights." (NEXIS)
_____. 19 July 1995. "Harassment Allegations Seen as Czech Anomaly." (NEXIS)
Additional Sources Consulted
Embassy of the Czech Republic. Ottawa, Canada.
Human Rights Watch (HRW). 1995. "Global Report on Women's Human Rights."
United Nations. Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. 15 October 1996. (CEDAW/C/CZE/1) Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties Under Article 18 of the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women: Initial Report of States Parties: Czech Republic.
Women's Exchange Project [Rotterdam]. Winter 1994 - December 1997. WEP International News.
Win News [Lexington, Mass.]. Winter 1996 - Summer 1998.
Electronic sources: IRB Databases, LEXIS/NEXIS, Internet, REFWORLD, World News Connection (WNC).
Six non-documentary sources contacted did not provide information on the requested subject.