A Cypriot former European commissioner was in the hot seat over the weekend after a comment she made about a rape story in Greece drew criticism from fellow Cypriots and Greeks, who took to social media to condemn her remarks and opine about young women and unwanted sex.
Cypriot politician Androulla Vassiliou, a former EU health commissioner, was heavily criticized on Twitter over the weekend after she weighed in on a news story out of Thessaloniki, where a young woman says she was drugged and raped in a hotel during a party on New Year’s Eve.
Greek police said they were investigating a rape complaint filed by a 24-year-old female on January 2, with a news story shared on Twitter Saturday reporting on the arrest of a male suspect. The man, described as the son of a business family in Athens, was detained after the woman accused him of raping her in a luxury suite.
“And how did the 24-year-old female end up in the hotel suite? One ought to know all the facts before arriving to a conclusion,” Vassiliou wrote.
Details in the media later suggested the young woman was lured to the hotel by a male acquaintance who reportedly was trying to find young women to attend a New Year’s Eve party for some clients from Athens.
'And how did the 24-year-old female end up in the hotel suite? One ought to know all the facts before arriving to a conclusion'
Reports said she believed someone spiked her drink, with Greek media saying that in her police complaint she told investigators she was not in a condition to return home and called her acquaintance who advised her to book a room at the hotel and stay overnight.
As she was trying to get to her room, she saw three men in the corridor took who took her into another hotel room. She later woke up naked and realized she was not in her room. One of the suspects who admitted having intercourse with the accuser reportedly told Hellenic Police that sex was consensual.
But social media users in Greece and Cyprus quickly responded to Vassiliou, accusing her of blaming the victim and describing her comment as “very unfortunate,” while others posted on the subject of rape on their own accounts, saying “no means no” and “yes but then changing your mind to no still means no.”
A famous Greek singer, Kati Garbi, was among those who said she was infuriated over the Thessaloniki case and also “ashamed of other women who were wondering how she ended up in the suite.”
“It turns out misogyny has no gender,” Garbi wrote.
Another Greek woman, a professor of criminology in Thessaloniki, responded directly to Vassiliou and said “maybe she was drunk, maybe not, it doesn’t matter when it comes to the actual act of rape.”
“Of course it doesn’t,” Vassiliou replied, adding “but it would be prudent for young girls to keep in mind dangers lurking around.”
Commissioner offers apology
Another Twitter user, Greek Cypriot politician Athos Antoniades, also jumped in telling Vassiliou she had made a “dangerous comment,” adding “how the victim got there was no excuse” and calling on the former commissioner to retract her statement.
“You should read the second part of my post," Vassiliou wrote back, adding that her "intention was not to suggest there was an excuse for the perpetrator of the rape but highlight the need for our girls to be twice as cautious with such invitations."
"You have misunderstood me,” she told Antoniades.
“Then I suggest you clear things up because you are sending the wrong message due to bad wording as you explain, and personally I believe you,” he replied.
A minute later Vassiliou posted a new comment on Twitter offering an apology.
“I apologize if through my post I gave the false impression that I wanted to blame the victim. On the contrary, as a mother I worry about young girls who fall victims and are seduced by crooks,” Vassiliou said.
But not all comments were negative towards the former commissioner, who is the wife of former Cypriot president and known progressive George Vassiliou.
“Androulla, I was grossed out after reading the insults, attacks, and replies from the sewer. I share your concerns so that young girls don’t get lured by rapist scamps. This is what I understood in your initial post,” a Cypriot influencer wrote.