NICOSIA - The Ombudsman’s Office has called for legislation criminalising stalking so that police will be better able to take action when complaints are made.
At the moment they are powerless to intervene against such sex pests.
Ombudsman Eliza Savvidou has raised concern after two separate complaints were received from stalking victims. In one case, the harassment led to the woman and her husband divorcing.
The Ombudsman’s Office has also noted that new technology such as social media websites had changed the face of stalking and that this type of obsessive behaviour often led to other types of violence against the victim, including their murder.
A recent EU-wide survey on violence against women put together by the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights found that stalking is a growing menace.
The report found that, in the EU28, 18% of women had experienced stalking at some point since the age of 15, and 5% of women have experienced stalking in the 12 months preceding the survey. This corresponds to about nine million women in the EU28 experiencing stalking within a period of 12 months.
In the two cases in Cyprus the Ombudsman’s Office was informed of, one of the women was stalked for a period of approximately two and a half years.
During this time, she was on the receiving end of unwanted “erotic” telephone calls, messages and letters from an unknown person. Her husband was also inundated with “reports” about her, the woman said. Calls were made from a variety of numbers including phone booths and mobile phones with pre-paid SIM cards. The stalker also left written notes on the woman’s car.
On one occasion, a man wearing a crash helmet attempted to enter the woman’s home to deliver a package. His motorcycle did not have licence plates.
Although the woman made several complaints to the police, the Law Office of the Republic issued an opinion that further investigation on the phone calls could not be undertaken as they were not connected to a crime for which a prison sentence of at least five years is handed down.
The second woman said the harassment she and her ex-husband were victim to ended their marriage.
The woman, by now living only with her two young children, complained that she was still being stalked by the same person.
She said her many complaints to the police had led to nothing more than Strovolos police officers verbally warning the stalker off.