Due to the current movement restrictions put in place to combat the spread of the coronavirus, many domestic violence victims who seek help may have difficulty doing so.
A new initiative to educate postal workers and couriers, some of the few people that victims may come into contact with these days, on the signs of abuse launched yesterday.
The Vodafone Foundation, ROSA – centrum pro ženy and Česká pošta (Czech Post) have put together information for couriers and mail delivery staff showing them how to recognize the signs of domestic violence and how to react.
Easy-to-follow instructions on what to do when customers, female or male, need help will be given to Česká pošta employees. Couriers from Rohlík and Dáme jídlo food delivery service will also receive them. In addition, the delivery staff of the Zásilkovna, Mesík, Party 24, Rychlý převoz and Speedy Kurýr delivery companies will be given the instructions as well.
“If a woman comes to pick up a delivery and is visibly tearful, or if shouting or swearing can be heard, it’s clear that something probably isn’t right. And asking people how they are doesn’t cost anything,” says Branislava Marvánová Vargová of Rosa – centrum pro ženy.
During the lockdown, the organization is also offering clients the option to get in touch via chat on www.rosacentrum.cz.
If couriers or mail delivery staff inadvertently become witnesses to domestic violence, they will be given advice on how to proceed. They can also establish whether those suffering abuse are safe or whether the police should be called.
They can also refer victims to the Bright Sky CZ mobile application, which provides complete and up to date information for those suffering abuse. The app, designed to help victims of domestic violence, has been successfully used by Czech police officers and specialized counseling and intervention centers since its February launch. In March, the application — which originated in Great Britain — was recommended to beauty salons.
“From the outset, Bright Sky CZ has been seen as a tool for raising awareness. It’s designed for victims themselves but also anyone concerned about loved ones who may be experiencing domestic violence. Obviously, couriers or postal delivery staff can’t provide professional psychotherapeutic assistance, but in a simple way they can point vulnerable people in the right direction,” says Veronika Řídelová, Bright Sky CZ program manager.
Since the beginning of February 2020, the Bright Sky mobile application has been available free of charge in the Czech Republic, for Android and iOS phones. More than 700 people have downloaded it on their phones free of charge. It has been used 330 times to find the nearest center. The quick “Am I in danger?” test has been taken 380 times.
The application is based on a British concept that was adapted for use in the Czech Republic, including in terms of the legal framework. The “Am I in danger?” function has 12 questions for assessing safety, and the “Search Help” function has a database of centers offering specialized counseling and shelters, including contacts. It can be searched by the current location or postal code.
The Czech app can now be used in the English language as well.
In a press briefing yesterday, the Czech government committee for domestic violence prevention also recommended all regions in the country make available beds for victims of domestic violence that cannot be accepted by reception centers because of the measures adopted to curb the new coronavirus epidemic.
Government human rights commissioner Helena Valkova Valkova said the state should earmark enough money for organizations supporting violence victims. She said there should be smart prevention and smart correction of the current state, apart from smart quarantine.
The Supreme State Attorney’s Office noted one day after the declaration of the state of emergency that higher punishment may be imposed on the perpetrators of crimes committed in a crisis situation.
In late March, the Police Presidium instructed policemen how to proceed when they banish from home a person in quarantine.
Domestic violence is defined as long-standing, repeated and escalating attacks of one household member on another. It may be not only physical but also psychological, sexual, and economic.
Most domestic violence victims are women, while children often witness such attacks in their families. According to the data released by the National Plan for Domestic Violence Prevention, the Czech Republic loses roughly 14.5 billion CZK due to domestic attacks annually.