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feminismus.czČlánky › Female judges

Female judges

2. duben 2001  | Jan Haverkamp
Last week i had an intensive court week, that confronted me with a phenomenon in Czech society: a high percentage of lower court judges is female. I don`t think that that is a result of feminism, but rather the contrary... a lack of feminism in this country.

Last week was a very intensive one for me. With Greenpeace, we faced two court cases and one administrative verdict against us around the Temelin issue, and my partner faced another one in relation the D5 motorway near Plzen. This intensive court week confronted me again with a very peculiar phenomenon in Czech society: a high percentage of judges in the lower courts is female. The question arises, whether that helps us in the development of civil society or not. The verdict of the last court case i was involved in does not really make me think so. And that may be the result of the fact that the high amount of Czech female judges is not a result of a feminist development, but maybe rather one of the contrary... a lack of feminism in this country.

I am not aware of any research into this matter, but it seems to me, that the amount of female judges - and of women in general in the juridical system - is strongly rising world-wide. The last judges of the war tribunal in The Hague i saw on television were female, increasingly law-series on TV feature female lawyers... This seems to be another trend on the second feminist wave. Women make more easily carreers and they seem to do a good job in it.

In the Czech Republic, i have so far only once been confronted with a male judge. The other four or five times, the judges were women. Again - i have not done research to this phenomenon, but can only give my first interpretations of what i have seen. It seems to me, that there are relatively much of the lower judges female. And different than in the world-wide picture, my impression is, that this is rather a result of the lack of feminism here. Judges do not get payed well in this country, so men probably leave this kind of well-looking jobs more easily to women. It pays better to be a commercial lawyer, and amongst them the amount of women is a lot lower.

When it is indeed true, that women land on the post of judge because of the fact that this is made easier for them than following better payed carreers, it maybe also explains a little bit why the judge in the case against our (German) activist banned him for three years from the country for expressing his opinion. He wanted to make clear - with 40 other people - that the State Office for Nuclear Safety (SUJB) is not listening to founded arguments that the Temelin nuclear power station is unsafe. He ran a siren during a Greenpeace action last summer. Three years not being able to enter the Czech Republic is a very heavy punishment, especially after the treatment this activist received while held in custody for 24 hours: no food, waken up every half an hour, no access to his lawyer and not to his embassy. But maybe this judge has to prove to her male public prosecutors and lawyers, that she can be tough in spite of being a woman. And her argumentation ("We want to prevent that kind of activities in our country") shows that she clearly did not intend to support the development of an open democracy. I was more than a bit shocked by this judgement.
Earlier in the week we were confronted with the judgement of another female lower court judge: CZK 10.000 fee for staging a not announced protest, as well as confiscation of around CZK 300.000 worth of equipment (including the siren ;-) )... I don`t feel very anti-feminist that we filed appeal in both cases.

Given the development of gender relations in this country, i would not be surprised when this picture indeed is adequate. A reason more to pursue the feminist cause here: feminism and democracy go hand in hand!

Jan Haverkamp is of Dutch origin and immigrated into the Czech Republic in 1997. He worked as organizational development specialist for Central and Eastern European environmental organizations and is currently Greenpeace anti-nuclear campaigner for Central Europe. He lives with his partner and daughter in Cvrcovice near Kladno and has a son in the Netherlands.

Názory z druhé strany - Thought from the other side

In this weekly column, pro-feminist men - men that are strongly influenced by the feminist movement - write their observations in daily life on the role of men and women in the Czech Republic.

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