The annual Mezipatra Film Festival gets underway this Thursday in Prague. The event, which is now in its 15th year, will present over seventy films with gay, lesbian and transgender topics before it moves on to Olomouc, Brno and Hradec Králové. I spoke to the programme director Lucia Kajánková and first asked her about this years’ theme:
The World Economic Forum’s Gender Gap Equality report which reflects the changing patterns of gender equality around the world has seen the Czech Republic slip to 96th place on a ladder of 142 countries. Its present ranking, below countries such as Russia and Uganda, has raised concern and highlighted the fact that progress on gender equality issues has be slow and inadequate. I asked Nina Bosničová of Gender Studies to outline the major problems.
The Czech Republic ranks 96th in this year’s global gender equality index compiled by the World Economic Forum, a Swiss-based NGO. Last year, the country ranked 83rd while in 2006, it was 53rd in the world. The Czech Republic’s poor ranking is mainly due to a wide gender pay gap and a very low representation of women in politics. The country however received top ranking in equal access to education, and ranked above average in access to health care.
Heightened ethnic tensions in some regions of the Czech Republic are the biggest threat for Czech democracy, according to an annual report for 2013 by the BIS, the country’s intelligence service. Anti-Romany sentiments harboured by sections of the Czech public could be a bigger threat for the security of the state than more extreme but less numerous groups of far-right radicals, the report says. Last year saw another series of often violent anti-Romany rallies, fuelled by frustration felt by inhabitants of areas with strong Romany presence. This could lead to increased scepticism towards the country’s democratic principles, the BIS reports concludes.
Renowned Romany musician Eugen Horváth died on Friday at the age of 74, the Museum of Romany Culture in Brno said. The Slovak-born Horváth, known as Janko, came from a musical family, and learned the play the violin at an early age. In 1969, he formed his own cimbalom band which recorded several albums including the 1992 record Gypsy Weeping.
The proportion of women in local politics has slightly increased after the recent communal elections, from 26 to 27 percent, according to the analysis released by Forum 50 %, which promotes the equal representation of women in politics. The Senate will remain largely male-dominated. Eight women are running in the second round of Senate elections next weekend, with two standing a chance of being elected.
The Czech government on Wednesday failed to take a stand on draft legislation allowing registered partners to adopt children, deputy prime minister Pavel Bělobrádek said. The government’s legislative body initially suggested the bill, put forward by 25 MPs from several parties, be approved. However, the cabinet did not take a position on the legislation over opposition from Christian Democrat ministers who said no new bill was needed as adoptions by gay couples can be dealt with on the basis of existing law. In 2011, some 900 children lived in households of gay and lesbian couples, according to data from the official population census.
Hundreds of people joined the Roma Pride 2014 march leading from Prague’s Old Town Square through the historic city centre on Saturday afternoon. The event is a celebration of Romany culture and identity and aims to draw attention to the discrimination of Romanies in the Czech Republic, be it in the sphere of housing, education or on the job market. Similar Romany Pride marches are taking place in 15 European countries.
Events are being held at the German Embassy in Prague to mark the 25th anniversary of the transit of thousands of East German refugees through what was then the diplomatic mission of West Germany. Among those taking part is then West German foreign minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher, who on September 30 1989 told thousands of refugees camped in the embassy’s grounds that they could travel to his country. The current German foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier is also taking part in the anniversary celebrations, as are around 150 of those who fled to the West at the time.
Responding to criticism regarding alleged discrimination of Romany children in the Czech education system, the Czech Education Ministry said on Friday it was paying exceptional attention to securing equal access to education for all children and considered it to be one of its main priorities. The ministry’s spokeswoman Klara Bila noted that the ministry was systematically working to include socially-disadvantaged children into the education mainstream. One of these measures, which has yet to be put into practice, is compulsory attendance of pre-school classes which would help Romany children integrate and overcome the cultural differences and language barrier that often present a problem.
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