Cyprus Mail

DISY MP supports legalising prostitution

Rikkos Mappourides

By Constantinos Psillides
A ROUND-TABLE discussion on tackling trafficking held at the EU Representation offices in Nicosia this week took a turn for the unexpected, after DISY MP Rikkos Mappourides admitted he had paid for sex and argued in favour of legalising prostitution.
“Let him who is without sin cast the first stone. All or almost all men have at some point in their lives paid for sexual services,” said the DISY MP according to press reports on Saturday. “My personal experience as a customer is that people should be very careful so as to make sure that the conditions under which the service is offered doesn’t constitute exploitation. The only way to battle sex trafficking is to regulate prostitution.”
He added that effective legislation is also needed to punish people who pay for sex while fully knowing that the women are victims of trafficking.
Mappourides’ comments draw the ire of the rest of the panel members. Josie Christodoulou, head of the Mediterranean Institute of Gender Studies said that she was “saddened” by Mappourides’ suggestion to legalise prostitution. Regarding a comment the MP made on women providing “sexual companionship”, Christodoulou responded that this was romanticising a form of violence.
“It is our belief that it is the clients, not the women that should be held accountable. Under no circumstance is the person paying for sexual services on an equal footing with the woman. The client is always is always in a place of authority and he can use, take advantage of or even rape these women,” said Christodoulou.
Regulating prostitution in Cyprus has always been a major headache for authorities. For years prostitution was legal. What was illegal was profiting from it. The outdated legislation was amended in 2014 to introduce a clause stipulating that the client could also be charged, “if he has reasonable suspicion that the woman was a victim of trafficking.”
The vague legislation has been criticised for its lack of effectiveness, with the police arguing that making such a case is extremely difficult.

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