Two proposals in parliament on the purchase of sexual services have taken politicians and the public by storm, with human trafficking and sexual abuse of minors in the backdrop.
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The two competing amendments are up against each other in the House on Friday, with one criminalizing the solicitation of sexual services and the other shifting the burden of proof from the plaintiff to the defendant.
According to local media, Diko MP Christiana Erotokriou has proposed a bill that would criminalize the solicitation of sexual services, in other words individuals seeking to buy sex would be committing a crime.
'It won’t be possible for people accused of sexual exploitation to simply avoid jail time if they cannot prove that they had no knowledge they were dealing with a trafficking victim'
A counter proposal by Edek MP Costis Efstathiou provides for defendants, who are being accused of having sex either with trafficking victims or minors, to prove in a court of law that they had no knowledge that a person was either a victim or underage.
The shifting of burden of proof from the plaintiff to the defendant drew heavy criticism from politicians and public figures, who said the proposal was against efforts to combat sex trafficking and abuse of minors.
But Efstathiou said he could not vote for legislation that would be unconstitutional, adding that the reason he proposed his own amendment was to force people accused of human trafficking to have to prove that they did not know an individual had been a human trafficking victim.
“It won’t be possible for people accused of sexually exploiting trafficking victims to simply avoid jail time if they cannot prove that they had no knowledge whether they were dealing with a victim of human trafficking,” the MP said.
Trafficking is the recruiting, transporting, harboring, or receiving of a person through force in order to exploit him or her for prostitution, forced labor, or slavery. It is different from human smuggling, which is the transport of an individual usually across a border with his or her consent.
The sex industry in the Republic of Cyprus is unregulated. While prostitution is not illegal, running a brothel is an offence punishable by law along with trafficking and pimping activities.