The Chairperson of the Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights and Equal Opportunities for Men and Women, Ms. Irini Charalambidou, stated that a holistic approach is needed and that cross-sectoral cooperation and the coordination of all support services for victims of sexual harassment is needed.
Ms. Charalambidou made this statement in her speech at the online Interparliamentary Meeting of the Committee on Women's Rights and Gender Equality of the European Parliament (EP), on the occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.
"By ending impunity and displaying zero tolerance for incidents of sexual violence, we reaffirm our determination to uphold our democratic values." -Charlambidou
As she mentioned in the discussion, sexual violence is a useful and effective tool of 'war' that mainly targets the most vulnerable groups, such as girls, women and children. She also pointed out that stereotypes and prejudices discourage most victims from reporting these incidents and, therefore, the statistics do not reflect the real dimension of the problem.
Ms. Charalambidou made special mention of the sexual violence and rapes, which were committed indiscriminately and to a large extent by the Turkish army during the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974, as a tool to force the Greek Cypriots to be displaced in the southern part of the island. The victims of sexual violence, said the Cypriot MP, were deprived of medical and psychological support, on the one hand, due to the fragmentation of the social fabric and the paralysis of the welfare state due to the Turkish invasion and, on the other hand, due to conservatism and patriarchal structures of Cypriot society.
It is imperative, Ms. Charalambidou stressed, that a holistic approach be adopted and that interdepartmental cooperation and coordination of all victim support services be ensured so that incidents of sexual violence can be reported.
She stressed the importance of collecting statistics to diagnose the problem and assess progress, as well as to build a strong protection and support network for the relief, rehabilitation and social reintegration of victims. "By ending impunity and displaying zero tolerance for incidents of sexual violence, we reaffirm our determination to uphold our democratic values," Charalambidou concluded.