Women helping refugees and migrants receive death and rape threats

Women working for NGOs in Czechia have become the targets of cyber bullying. Hate speech and daily threats are having a considerable impact on their lives.

Sofija Kordic
Sofija Kordic NewsMavens, Czechia
Women helping refugees and migrants receive death and rape threats - NewsMavens
Woman holding phone, PixaBay

Why this story matters:

According to the statistics of the In IUSTITITA organization, which helps victims of the hate crime, after Roma minority members and Muslims the most frequent target of hate crimes in Czechia are employees of NGOs, especially those that help refugees and migrants -- and especially if they happen to be women. Unfortunately, they receive neither legal protection nor understanding from Czech society and many of them live in fear and develop psychological problems. 

Since 2015, when the refugee crises dramatically worsened, and after terrorist attacks were carried out by Islamic radicals in Paris and Brussels, Czech society began to perceive refugees, migrants and foreigners from Muslim countries as security threat. From that moment on, volunteers and NGO employees whose job is to help refugees and migrants began to be perceived as enemies as well. 

Victims say that a share of the blame lies on politicians and some media outlets which support stereotypes and hate speech against NGOs.

When victims reported threats, police officers or state attorneys would tell them that they shouldn’t be surprised, since they don’t share the same views as the majority of Czech society. 

Details from the story:

  • One Facebook page (which doesn’t exist anymore) known for inciting hatred against Muslims published a photograph and personal information about a Czech woman working in an NGO which helps refugees abroad. After months of cyber bullying she developed health issues and wasn’t able to walk the streets alone. Finally, she changed her job.
  • Along with death and rape threats, most of the women are victims of so called body shaming, attackers mock their body shape or size. Threats are sexualized, women are called whores, or frustrated bitches who “search for well-equipped Africans.”
  • Even though the State Attorney claims that hate speech on the internet is a problem, according to the experience of the cyber bullying victims from this story, assistant attorneys see it as freedom of speech.
  • Magda Faltova, director of SIMI, the Association for Integration and Migration, says that the system doesn’t protect female victims of cyber bullying, and society doesn’t condemn internet hate speech.
  • One of the biggest problems is that some Czech politicians claim that NGOs are profiting from working with refugees and migrants and that they want to bring as many migrants as possible to the Czech Republic. As a result, the public perceive NGOs workers as a threat. 
  • Without the support of their colleagues, family and friends, the women wouldn’t be able to perform their work.
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