A bill tightening the penalty for rape to life in prison is set to be tabled before Parliament next Friday.
The bill was discussed on Wednesday among the members of the parliamentary legal committee, as once passed by lawmakers, which appears to be the most likely scenario, the bill is expected to be placed into effect from as soon as next month.
The bill will raise the maximum penalty for rape to life imprisonment, and will modernize the legal definition of rape to include sexual abuse through penetration, attempted sexual abuse through penetration, coercion to commit rape and coercion to commit sexual assault through penetration.
Additionally, for offences of a lesser degree compared to rape, such as coercion to have intercourse or other sexual acts, the penalty will not exceed 10 years imprisonment. The new law will also not discriminate between men and women.
In statements after the meeting, AKEL MP Aristos Damianou expressed satisfaction with the bill, noting that “the bill regarding the modernization of the definition of the felony of rape has become potentially accepted by all.”
He added that a fruitful discussion was shared with the relevant authorities and the Legal Service, which, he said, “contributed to the effort enriching it, with the aim of covering all possible scenarios, which today are unfortunately not covered with the current definition of the felony of rape.”
Referring to the new bill, Damianou said that it literally stated that "anyone who enters into illicit intercourse through vaginal, anal or oral penetration of the penis into the body of another person, without their consent or with consent given under violence, threat, or fear, is guilty of a crime, which is called rape."
"At a time when this heinous crime is reaching alarming proportions around the world, at a time when victims of rape or other similar acts are indelibly psychologically wounded, we consider it our duty to update the definition and facilitate criminal prosecution,” Damianou said.
House legal committee adopts new definition of child pornography
The House legal committee on Wednesday also adopted a new definition of child pornography to include material on the sexual abuse and exploitation of minors, in line with recommendations of the European Parliament, the Council of Europe, and Interpol.
DISY MP Xenia Constantinou said that over the past few years, Cyprus has seen a surge of the heinous crime, but noted that this may not only point to an increase in the number of perpetrators, but also to the improved tools of crime detection.