March 8th is International Women's Day but there's little to show for it in the Czech Republic. Most Czechs' memories of International Women's Day are restricted to folk songs, drink, red carnations and communist rhetoric. As a result, it has been discarded as a remnant of the past and few people today even notice its existence. The Czech Women's Lobby is now trying to change that and get Czechs to re-embrace the original idea behind International Women's Day. Blanka Knotkova from the Gender Studies Department of Charles University remembers the
The Prague metro - this is where I would most probably have become just another statistic if I - trapped with four neo-Nazis - hadn't escaped a split second before the doors of the wagon closed. In the Czech Republic people of mixed race like myself - I'm half Ghanaian - and foreigners of different ethnic backgrounds are always wary of our surroundings. But surprisingly, the police and anti-extremist NGOs say there is no need for our heightened attention. With only a few exceptions, foreigners are relatively safe from far-right extremists.
Two men who set a homeless person on fire in one of Prague's night trams have been sentenced to three and a half years in jail. This is the second ruling on the case. Originally one of the men was sentenced to eight years for attempted murder. Both appealed, arguing that they had not meant to kill the man, but simply to frighten him and get him off the tram. The victim spent four months in hospital and has had to undergo a number of skin-transplants.
The cabinet minister responsible for minorities and human rights, Dzamila Stehlikova, has called for a debate aimed at allowing gay couples to adopt children. In an interview for an internet news server on Monday, the Green Party minister said it would be the right step considering the fact that around 20,000 children are being brought up in institutions in the Czech Republic.
Over one hundred people attended an extreme right concert in the south Bohemian town of Ceske Budejovice on Saturday night. The four-hour event was monitored by around fifty police officers. Of the 120 participants, most of them are believed to belong to the neo-Nazi movement. Four bands performed at the concert - two of them were from the Czech Republic, one was from neighbouring Slovakia, and the fourth from Canada.
The Czech Minister without Portfolio Dzamila Stehlikova has dropped the idea of a collection for Romany families evicted by municipal authorities in the Moravian town of Vsetin. The Green Party minister had wanted to raise money for Romanies evicted from buildings in Vsetin last autumn as rent-defaulters and moved to rundown buildings in the Moravian Jeseniky region so that they could carry out basic repairs to their new dwellings, The evicted Romanies said they appreciated Minister Stehlikova's interest but have refused her offer of assistance. They said any financial help should come from the town of Vsetin, which was responsible for their situation.
In a newly-issued report the Czech Helsinki committee has stated that discrimination against women on the Czech labour market has not yet been quashed. According to the report, published on the group's website, many employers continue to discriminate against women. Often candidates for new jobs are asked inadmissible personal questions about, for example, plans to have children and take maternity leave. Another example cited is the case of mothers losing jobs during their trial periods because they are unable to work overtime, having young children to care for at home.
A Romany women's working group wants a fund established to compensate women sterilised without their consent. The group, part of the government's council for Romany affairs, is also calling for an apology, the council's head Czeslaw Walek said on Tuesday. A document prepared by the group says financial compensation should also go to women in cases which exceed the statue of limitations. The Ombudsman had previously called for damages to be paid in cases dating back as far as 1971.
The Czech Police proudly announced last year that a new initiative would see the force more multi-cultural. Members of the country's biggest minority group, the Roma, would be motivated to join the force. In some districts in Moravia a number of Romanies are acting as social workers to help inform their communities about their rights. The aim of the police project though is to fight xenophobia within the rest of society.