Prague - On the very first day of her appointment as the head of the Office for International Legal Protection of Children (ILPC) advocate Lenka Pavlová drew a lot of flak.
In front of the Labor and Social Affairs Ministry to which the ILPC Office reports, a handful of members of a group called K213 protested against the new OILPC chief.
"The contest for this position was flawed," explained Jiří Štefek, a K213 member. But Minister Petr Nečas defended the selection process as absolutely transparent.
K213 is a civic group fighting for the rights of fathers, allegedly being discriminated against by current Czech legislation. The group champions equal parenting and equal contact for divorced parents with children, criticizing what it sees as pro-women and pro-mother biased legislation.
"Pavlová is not competent to run this office because she is active in a feminist movement," Štefek explained.
K213 members were not permitted to enter the new head's opening press conference that took place on Thursday. One man had to be escorted from the building.
Members of the group are going to hold a protest on Monday January 20 in Brno in front of the ILPC office to protest at the "feminist provocation", as the group describes Pavlová's appointment on their web site.
About thirty people are expected to show up.
Pavlová was appointed to spearhead a general conceptual change of the office whose main task is to secure legal protection of minors, deal with intercountry abductions of children and mediate intercountry adoptions.
"This office often had to defend interests of foreign parents in past," said Minister Nečas. "It was a major conflict of interests," he added. The institution had to defend rights of both, the child and the foreign parent.
"The majority of cases were caused by judicial system's failure, as legislation differs among countries," explained Pavlová. Her aim is to promote out-of-court settlements. "It is above all both parents´ cooperation that can help the most," she added.
According to Minister Nečas, the office should become a "child's advocate". Within the framework of the transformation, the institution is due to introduce family mediation practices.
On top of that, a newly established Advisory Board of Experts on International Child Abduction is to help social workers to solve conflicts between separated parents in cases where one of them lives abroad.