A Council of Europe pilot scheme aimed at strengthening national policies to combat sexual violence against children is set take place in Cyprus starting with a series of events this week.
According to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), better measures are needed to prevent sexual violence, to protect children and to prosecute the abusers throughout Europe. Cyprus will serve as the first test case in a two-year project.
The project – which is part of the Council of Europe’s ‘ONE in FIVE’ campaign – is set to be completed by April 2016.
Although official data is not available, figures from police and other private organisations say that 25% of child abuse cases in Cyprus in 2010 were sexual in nature with that number dropping to 20% in 2011. Last year, 41 cases of child sex abuse were recorded out of the 176 violent and indecent acts against minors.
“In order to assess the situation in Cyprus, we have to review the existing methodologies, modalities and structures for data collection on child sexual abuse,” commented Cypriot MP Stella Kyriakidou – who is also PACE General Rapporteur on Children. “Without accurate data we cannot guarantee that policy recommendations for legislative and institutional reforms are successful. This review is part of our pilot project and co-funded by the Leventis Foundation.”
What available data there is suggests that about one in five children in Europe are victims of some form of sexual violence and that in the vast majority of cases, the abuser is somebody the child knows and trusts.
“I hope that by April 2016, my country will be in a position to ratify and implement the Lanzarote Convention, a legally-binding instrument drawn up by the Council of Europe and containing all the measures needed to prevent sexual violence, to protect children and to prosecute the abusers”.
A news conference at the Leventis Municipal Museum in Nicosia will take place on Friday to officially announce the project. The following day, a street event
organised by the Commissioner’s Young Advisors Team with the support of the office of the Commissioner for Children’s Rights and project partners will take place on Ledra Street while the pilot scheme will be officially launched next Monday.