Victims of sexual violence
Forms of sexual violence and how they relate to the law

All forms of sexual violence are considered by our society to be inhuman, illegal, serious behavior that the Penal Code includes under crimes against human dignity in the area of sex.

The folowing describes what each specific crime and other forms of violence in the area of sex specifically involves.

Sexual abuse

This involves various forms of sexual behavior targeting children. A child is exposed to inappropriate sexual contacts or interactions in which the child is used to sexually stimulate the perpetrator or a third party in order for the offender to possibly achieve sexual arousal and gratification. The sexual abuse of children results in harm to their mental, physical and social development and can even kill them.

The child’s own sexual maturity or virginity is irrelevant, and it is also irrelevant which party to the incident initiated the interaction, who was the more active party, whether the act was based on an emotional relationship, or whether it was performed with the consent of or at the express request of the child who has been abused. These factors apply only when sentencing is being considered.

Forms of sexual abuse

Sexual abuse can also occur without physical contact - the offender does not have to touch the child in order to become aroused/satisfied. This kind of abuse includes:

  • Voyeurism ‒ obtaining sexual gratification by observing someone else, in this case children who are forced, for example, to undress, to touch themselves in intimate places and so on;
  • Exhibitionism - the perpetrators achieve satisfaction by exposing their genitals, usually to children unknown to them, and this exposure is usually sometimes also accompanied by masturbation;
  • Verbal sexual abuse - sharing sexual topics with a child, using obscene words in front of a child or describing sexual activities to a child. This can also involve anonymous phone calls during which the offender forces the child to masturbate or undress under the threat of various kinds of harm. What excites the perpetrators in such cases is the notion that the children are afraid for their own safety or that of their loved ones and therefore follow the perpetrator’s orders.  

The form of sexual abuse involving touch is when there is direct physical contact between the child and the offender. This includes fondling, touching breasts and gentials, kissing the body, rubbing against the child’s skin (imitating the motions of copulation), and intercourse (i.e., penetrating a child’s body with the fingers, with objects, or with the penis).

Other forms of sexual abuse are perpetrated by parents as part of raising their children. This may involve parents photographing their naked children in stylized poses, the ritual shaving of their children’s genitals, or the delivering of punishments - for example, a father spanking his daughter’s bare buttocks and becoming aroused as he does so. While these forms of abuse do not completely overlap with the objective definition of this felony, such activities and others similar to them may meet the definition of other legal provisions, such as endangering a child’s upbringing or seducing a child to participate in sexual intercourse.

Sexual abuse can take place over a long time, perhaps for years, or can be a one-off assault. It can take place between people of the opposite sex or the same sex.

According to the law

The new Penal Code No. 40/2009, Coll., includes a new Title III in a special section covering offenses against human dignity in sexual matters.

Sexual abuse is covered by Section 187.

The Criminal Code defines the offense of sexual abuse as performing sexual intercouse with a child under 15 years of age or sexually abusing such a child in some other way. Those convicted can be sentenced to between one and eight years in prison.  

A more serious form of sexual abuse is when the perpetrator commits the offense against a child entrusted to the perpetrator for supervision, in which the perpetrator abuses the child’s dependency or his or her own position and the credibility or influence derived from that position. Such cases involve parents, including step-parents, as well as doctors, educators, or the heads of children’s camps, and convicted perpetrators can be sentenced to between two to 10 years in prison.  

In practice, criminal law assesses some behaviors as constituting a sexual offense even in the event that sexual intercourse did not occur. Behavior such as groping the victim in intimate places, otherwise manipuling the sex organs or areas of secondary sexual characteristics, such as girls’ breasts, also constitutes criminal sexual abuse.

Offenders are also criminally liable even if the behavior was perpetrated within the framework of a “healthy relationship”, such as a peer relationship, and even if the intercourse was voluntary. The legal age for sexual intercourse in the Czech Republic is 15. Of course, the age of the victim must be known to the perpetrator for such a case to be criminal. Should the victim have appeared to be older than 15, and if the perpetrator had no doubts that the victim was older than 15, then the perpetrator would have acted on the basis of a factual error. The crime of seduction of a minor to participate in sexual intercourse - statutory rape - requires that the misbehavior have been intentionally committed, and therefore the behavior of an offender who acted on the basis of a factual error about the victim’s age would not be considered criminal.

In terms of its broader impact on a child’s health and psyche, from the standpoint of the possible consequences for the child’s future, sexual abuse is of much broader significance, even in cases of the non-contact form of sexual abuse that do not meet the criteria of a crime.

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Rape is one of the most serious sexually motivated crimes and is defined as forcing sexual intercourse through violence or the threat of violence or other grievous harm, or by abusing the victim’s defenselessness.

Rape is understood to mean sexual activities that penetrate any intimate area of the rape victim, e.g., anal and oral sexual practices, in addition to completed sexual intercourse.

Just forcing someone to engage in sexual intercourse without actually succeeding is prosecuted as attempted rape.

Anyone can be either a perpetrator or a victim of rape, whether male or female. Rape victims can be persons who have previously voluntarily engaged in sexual intercourse with the perpetrator, or who live with the perpetrator in a marriage, or as common-law spouses, or in a registered partnership.

Forcing consists of the perpetrator using violent behavior to overwhelm the seriously-meant disagreement of another person to sexual intercourse, or using violence when the victim is unable to resist for any reason. It is absolutely irrelevant how the victim got into such a state of being unable to resist or whether the victim got into that state as a result of the perpetrator’s endeavors or not. States in which victims are unable to resist include deep sleep, drunkenness, a high fever, the influence of drugs, physical confinement or restraint, etc.

For behavior to be considered rape, it is not enough that the perpetrator wants to perform sexual intercourse or some other sexual contact with another person against that person’s will.

The law requires that the perpetrator want to achieve this intention through violence or the threat of violence.

Resistance to rape sometimes can be very intensive, but does not have to be, and depends on the temperamental characteristics of the victim and the forms of violence the assailant intends to use to overcome the victim’s resistance. Just because a victim sees no other way out and does not know how to continue defending herself or himself does not mean the victim agreed to the attacker’s conduct, even in cases when the victim persuades the assailant to use a condom for protection from the side effects of the rape.

The result of violence or the threat of violence is that the victim, after expressing seriously-meant disagreement and showing resisitance, then refrains from any further resistance due to exhaustion, to the apparent hopelessness of the situation, or to a well-founded fear that the perpetrator of the violence will make good on the threat.

Using deceit to induce a victim to fall into a state of defenselessness is also considered violence. Causing someone to hold an erroneous belief or exploiting an erroneous belief with a view to achieving the objective of rape is considered such a subterfuge. Through deceit the other person must have been put into a vulnerable position, such as by giving them alcoholic beverages, narcotics or psychotropic substances when the person is not capable of effectively fending off the perpetrator. Such states are primarily considered unconsciousness as a result of disease, fainting, or the ingestion of alcoholic beverages. Other states of defenselessness include the person being bound or otherwise physically unable to prevent the attack, as well as persons suffering from mental disorders such that they do not understand the meaning of the offender’s conduct, or a person who is in deep sleep. People are also considered defenseless when, given their minor age, they are not sufficiently mature enough to be able to assess the importance of resisting forced sexual intercourse. It does not matter whether the person is in a vulnerable position due to a physical condition or as a result of another person’s intervention.

Source:  JUDr. Miroslav Mitlöhner, CSc. Sexualita v zákoně č. 40/2009 Sb., trestním zákoníku. In Speciální pedagogika: časopis pro teorii a praxi speciální pedagogiky, 2010. [cit. 2014–04–30].

According to the law

The new Penal Code No. 40/2009, Coll., includes a new Title III in a special section covering offenses against human dignity in sexual matters.

The crime of rape is described in Section 185.

The Act defines the crime of rape as forced sexual intercourse under threat of violence or other severe injury.

The term “sexual intercourse”, within the meaning of the first paragraph of this provision, also covers behavior that is not designed to result in the performance of sexual intercouse or  similar sexual contact, but includes, for example, forcing the victim to endure an offender’s sexual displays, e.g., groping the victim’s genitals. For such behavior a perpetrator can serve anywhere from six months to five years in prison.

If a rape occurs through the performance of sexual intercourse or other sexual contact in a manner comparable to coitus (e.g., through anal or oral sex), then the conditions will have been met for the imposition of higher penalties under the second paragraphy of this provision, i.e., imprisonment of between two and 10 years.

Imprisonment of between five and 12 years awaits an offender who commits rape on a child under the age of 15 should this act cause grievous bodily harm, or should the act be committed, for example, against a child who is in custody, housed in an educational institution, in prison, etc.

Should the perpetrator’s rape cause the victim’s death, the perpetrator will be punished by imprisonment of between 10 and 18 years. Attempted rape or conspiracy/preparation to commit rape is also a crime.

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Sexual coercion

Sexual coercion describes behavior that, through its lesser intensity, severity, or the way it is perpetrated, falls short of the definition of the crime of rape.

Sexual coercion implies the use of violence, or threats of violence, or threats of other serious harm, or exploitation of a victim’s vulnerability - i.e., it is like rape, but unlike rape, coercion is perpetrated for the purpose of committing indecent exposure, sexual self-satisfaction, or other comparable conduct, not intercourse.

In some cases the offender abuses a victim’s dependency or the offender’s own position and the credibility and influence resulting from that position to coerce the victim into the sexual behavior described above. The difference in these cases is that some means other than violence is used to perpetrate sexual coercion. Dependency is a condition that takes many forms, but what they all have in common is that the victim is in some way dependent on the offender, for example, as a debtor, an employee, a pupil, a student, etc., such that the victim cannot act freely or independently. A perpetrator abusing credibility is similar, in that the credibility may have many different causes, including natural authority, popularity, professionalism, etc.  

According to the law

The new Penal Code No. 40/2009, Coll., includes a new Title III in a special section covering offenses against human dignity in sexual matters.

Sexual coercion is described in Section 186.

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Sexual intercourse between relatives

To the public this concept is better known as incest, although the legal order does not use that concept. This offense consists of performing sexual intercourse with relatives who are directly related to oneself in line of descent or with one’s siblings. If both participants to incestual sexual intercourse are adults, both are considered perpetrators of the crime. In the case of sexual intercourse between persons who are directly related in line of descent or who are siblings, if one participant is younger than 15, this is not the crime of sexual intercourse between relatives but is considered sexual abuse.

For the objective definition of this crime to be met, either attempted coitus or fully achieved coitus must have been committed. Other sexual practices such as those included in the crime of sexual abuse, do not meet the definition of this crime.

Although in some cultures it is common for the closest of relatives to enter into intimate relationships or to marry, in the Czech environment such behavior is considered morally unacceptable and is prohibited by law. This approach stems mainly from the recognition that the offspring of such incestuous unions are frequently degenerate. However, another purpose of anchoring this prohibition in law is also to protect values other than that of health, particularly values concerning ethics and human dignity.  

The sexual abuse of children often involves incest as a form of sexual violence. Most of the time this is committed by an older member of the family against a younger member of the family. The perpetrator can be an adoptive or biological grandparent or parent or sibling. Sexual intercourse performed between half-siblings or step-siblings is criminally evaluated the same way as sexual intercourse performed between biological siblings. Marriage in the Czech Republic cannot be concluded between offspring and parents or between siblings; the same applies to persons who become relatives through adoption.

According to the law

The new Penal Code No. 40/2009, Coll., includes a new Title III in a special section covering offenses against human dignity in sexual matters.

Sexual intercourse between relatives is defined in Section 188.


Child pornography

Pornography is the depiction of sexual motifs in order to cause sexual excitement.

Child pornography depicts an actually-existing child or children, or realistically depicts a non-existent child or children (i.e., any person younger than 18) participating in either feigned or real sexual activities such as displaying their genitals, engaging in sexual intercourse, or masturbating, irrespective of the method used to depict such representations, as long as it is primarily intended for sexual purposes.

Any image of the naked human body cannot in and of itself be considered pornography, nor can any artwork using the naked human body be so considered, even if such art or images may capture people’s most intimate moments and may even sexually excite some individuals. Historically valuable items of a pornographic nature are also not considered pornographic works, nor are items intended for artistic, public education, or scientific goals.

Child pornography includes not just visual works - drawings, films, photographs, sculptures - but also audio or literary depictions, e.g., fantasy stories, recordings of children’s voices, etc.

According to the law

The new Penal Code No. 40/2009, Coll., includes a new Title III in a special section covering offenses against human dignity in sexual matters.

The dissemination of pornography is described in Section 191 as the crime of disseminating pornographic works showing disrespect for human beings, sexual intercourse with an animal, or violence. The essence of this offense is the export, import, procurement, production, public display, sale, or other involvement in the computer, electronic, film or photographic versions of a pornographic work that shows disrespect for human beings or violence, or that depicts, describes or otherwise displays sexual intercourse with an animal.

The production of and other dealing in child pornography is described in Section 192.

This concerns the distribution,  import, manufacture, possession or sale of computer, electronic, film or photographic pornographic work depicting or otherwise exploiting a child or a person who appears to be one. Longer sentencing can be handed down to someone who commits the foregoing as a member of an organized group of with the intention of personally accruing, to oneself or to a third party, a considerably large benefit.

The abuse of a child to produce pornography is defined in Section 193.

The essence of this crime is that the offender abuses, entices, forces, hires or procures a child for the purposes of producing pornography or gains from a child participating in pornography.


Crimes related to prostitution

According to the law

The new Penal Code No. 40/2009, Coll., includes a new Title III in a special section covering offenses against human dignity in sexual matters.

The offense of prostitution endangering the morals of children is defined in Section 190 as especially involving prostitution occurring in the vicinity of facilites and locations that are suitable for children.

The offense of pimping is defined in Section 189 as an offender enticing, forcing, hiring, luring, or procuring someone into prostitution or profiting from others’ prostitution. If, however, a child is used for prostitution, such behavior is assessed as the crime of human trafficking.

Human trafficking is defined in Section 168.

This crime is committed by someone who, among other actions, forces, harbors, hires, procures, receives, seduces, or transports a child to be abused for sexual intercourse, for other forms of sexual abuse or harassment, or to produce pornography. The same also applies to abuse of adults.

Criminal seduction into sexual intercourse is defined in Section 202 as a perpetrator giving, offering or promising to give a child or any other person for the purpose of sexual intercourse with a child, for sexual self-gratification with a child, for the indecent exposure of a child, or for other comparable conduct for the purpose of sexual gratification in exchange for advantage, benefit, or reward.


Sexual harassment

Sexual harassment is one manifestation of discrimination on the labor market or, for example, within the framework of an academic environment. It is generally perceived as inappropriate, insulting or unwelcome behavior with sexual overtones that the victim perceives as undesirable. The perpetrators of sexual harassment are mostly men, whether the colleagues or superiors of the women they harass, but it cannot be ruled out that a woman might also commit sexual harassment. Female perpetrators tend to commit minor, mostly verbal forms of sexual harassment.

Harassment is not just about physical contact, and is not narrowly confined to sexual intercourse. It includes various forms of psychological pressure, such as treating someone differently on the grounds of sex, displaying materials depicting men or women as sexual objects, making inappropriate comments about someone’s appearance and body, telling suggestive jokes, making embarrassing or humiliating remarks, and paying unwanted attention to someone through harassing e-mails or unwanted sexual advances.

Sexual motivation is not always dominant in cases of sexual harassment - this is particularly about the abuse of power in cases of power inequities, for example, those between a boss and a subordinate. Sexual harassment is not an expression of affection by a member of one gender for another, nor is it an expression of same-sex affection, but is a tool for systematically reducing the status of someone in the workplace. In labor relations any discrimination is prohibitied and labor law regards sexual harassment as discrimination. Harassment is conduct of a sexual nature in whatever form which the affected employee rightly perceives as inappopriate, insulting or unwelcome, the consequence or intention of which is to lead to a reduction in someone’s dignity, to create a degrading, hostile or uncomfortable environment in the workplace, or to create conditions for decisions that will affect the harassed person’s work.

According to the law

Serious forms of sexual harassment are qualified as the crime of sexual coercion.

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