By Constantinos Psillides
THE number of women working in cabarets in Cyprus has dropped dramatically since the law was changed five years ago abolishing the ‘artiste licence’.
According to figures from the Cyprus Gender Equality Observatory (CGEO), 400 women are currently employed in 20 cabarets compared to 6,000 women and 108 cabarets in 2007.
Prior to 2009, a legal loophole existed in the law that allowed cabaret owners to employ women under the guise of ‘artiste’ for which there was a special licence that facilitated traffickers.
The government closed the loophole in 2009 by introducing an amendment requiring the women to have a degree in dance and other professional requirements.
The amendment angered cabaret owners, who went as far as to stage a protest outside the interior ministry, asking for the amendment to be abolished.
While CGEO congratulated the government for introducing the new legal framework and protect victims, especially minors, it said the drop was likely only on paper as traffickers always found new ways around the law.
The organisation cited figures from Eurostat, saying that for the years 2008-2010 sex trafficking in the EU was actually on the rise.
According to Eurostat, 15 per cent of trafficking victims in 2010 were minors. The vast majority of those minors – 80 per cent – were female.
Victims of sexual trafficking are predominantly women (96 per cent), while men are the majority of victims when it comes to work exploitation (77 per cent), according to Eurostat.
The EU statistics office also noted that there was an increase in trafficking in boys. It is estimated that 61 per cent of the trafficking victims comes from EU member states.