In Cyprus, every 27 hours a child is sexually abused. According to the Office of the Commissioner for the Protection of the Rights of the Child Despos Michailidou-Livani, the number comes from reports made by "Children's House", during a study they made on the impact of COVID measures on children's rights. The Commissioner calls on everyone to be vigilant and noted the need to properly inform and empower children so they can effectively deal to deal with these incidents.
A press release on the occasion of November 18 - European Day for the Protection of Children against Sexual Abuse
states that from January to June 2021 (a period of 6 months) 241 reports were made. This number was already at 83% of the number reported in 2019 over a period of 12 months.
According to the Office of the Commissioner for the Protection of the Rights of the Child, restrictive measures imposed to prevent the spread of the pandemic have reduced the safety net for children. "The media and centers where children had the opportunity to report abuse and/or seek help were turned into impersonal online platforms. Children were covered in a veil of silence, trapped in the abusive environment, less likely to seek help."
It is also noted that "in 2020 there were 324 reports of child victims of sexual abuse and these are the only children who dared to speak, who did not stay silent. Perpetrators can successfully persuade victims not to testify especially when the abuse comes from a person who knows, admires or loves the victim. Children who stay silent can carry the guilt and shame of the act".
November 18 - European Day for the Protection of Children against Sexual Abuse - is reportedly "the beginning of a collective effort for all of us to declare zero tolerance for child sexual abuse".
The press release adds that "in order to make this day more meaningful, it requires our own vigilance, the recognition of our own obligations: to reveal and report every case that comes to our knowledge, to inform the children properly and to empower them so that they can recognize harmful behaviors and gestures and be encouraged to speak up and report such phenomena."
An emphasis was also made in the press release about the "coordinated actions by competent authorities and state services to ensure the best interests of the child, both preventively and at all stages of the process: the investigation of the complaint and the speedy trial of the case, the support of the victim and of his/her family, but also the immediate application of inclusive sex education at all levels of school".