Cyprus has one of the lowest conviction rates for Domestic Violence in the EU and high rates of victim attrition, according to a study on violence against women published by the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network (EMHRN).
The ‘justice gap’ in Cyprus is described as ‘alarming’.
“55% of the incidents reported to the Police do not lead to official criminal investigations.” Also, ‘the majority of penalties imposed for domestic violence are fines (74%),” said the report.
The report entitled “Violence against Women in the context of Political Transformations and Economic Crisis” was presented by the Mediterranean Institute of Gender Studies (MIGS) in collaboration with the Centre for European and International Affairs and the Cyprus Centre for Intercultural Studies (CCIS) of the University of Nicosia.
Speaking at the conference, MIGS Director Susana Pavlou said the report examined the main trends in relation to violence against women with case studies in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Syria, Spain, France and Cyprus.
Pavlou said the report “aims to outline a framework for combating violence against women at international, regional and national levels and also provide recommendations on how to combat violence and end impunity.”
It alerts that violence against women has dramatically increased in the Euro-Mediterranean region in recent years and underlines the alarming increase and severity of sexual violence in countries such as Libya, Syria and Egypt. Results were presented by Christina Kaili of MIGS and member of EMHRN Gender Working Group.
The report has also found that Cyprus has one of the highest gender pay gaps in the EU with 21.3%. Also that that there is an increased cost of living and barriers in accessing health care, increased unemployment, reduction of wages, poverty and social exclusion (persons over 65+, single parents, migrant third country nationals) and lack of systematic data collection/ evaluation of gender impacts.
Also that financing for gender equality was drastically reduced and that there is a significant “Justice gap”, with the island having one of the lowest conviction rates for domestic violence (EU) and high rates of victim attrition.
Cyprus has also yet to sign the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence and also lacking is a rape crisis centre or specialised services for victims of rape and sexual assault.
Maria Hadjipavlou, Associate Professor at University of Cyprus said wording holds key in order to overturn historically-engrained perceptions of women as victims, symbols of the nationalist order.
She said the language of all peace agreements and state documents must seek to overturn assumptions embedded in words about men’s and women’s roles in society.
“‘Morality’, ‘honour’, ‘ownership’, ‘protection’, ‘order’, ‘role’, are such words; particular descriptions of parent-hood, home-making, and the public-private distinction are other minefields, which weaken women’s agency,” said Hadjipavlou.
Marilena Zackheos, Director of the Cyprus Centre for Intercultural Studies, said: “The results of the report are alarming in terms of the violence perpetrated against women in the six countries examined.” She said the recommendations, if implemented, “would bring us closer toward equality and justice for all human beings regardless of their race, ethnicity, class, religion, language, nationality, sexual orientation, and gender.”