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Female MP demands police investigate indecent assault complaint (updated)

Cyprus' Stella Kyriakides received the health portfolio

By George Psyllides

AKEL MP Irini Charalambidou demanded on Tuesday that an indecent assault complaint filed against a colleague be investigated by police as House President Yiannakis Omirou suggested that last week’s incident should have been settled between the two.

“Every time a woman reports indecent assault, intimidation, and or rape, a protective wall is erected around the perpetrator,” Charalambidou said in a written statement.

Similarly, she said, the woman has to endure various direct or indirect suggestions: that the perpetrator was provoked, this is how men are, she was provocative, its her fault, and others, in a bid to offset and to muddy the water.

“I will not fall into this trap. I have reported indecent assault to the police. It is my demand and my right for the case to be examined in its criminal dimension,” Charalambidou said.

The incident took place last Friday when ruling DISY MP Andreas Kyprianou reportedly tried to take an up-skirt photo of Charalambidou.

It was in reaction to Charalambidou pointing her mobile phone camera at Kyprianou, in a gesture indicating she would take a photo of him lighting up a cigarette before he had left the room, in violation of the law.

Kyprianou then reportedly moved towards her aggressively shouting “just do it” and hurling insults and placed his phone under her skirt trying to take a photo. He reportedly also called her a slut.

Kyprianou, who also lodged a complaint with the police, said she insulted him first after he had asked her to erase the photos she had taken of him and another colleague smoking, an action he acknowledged was wrong.

He said she was “indecently” sitting on the table and not on the chair in the conference room.

“If by pointing out to Mrs Charalambidou, while presenting a mobile phone, that with the indecent way she was sitting, we too could take a photo of her and expose her is considered an indecent assault it is for someone else to decide,” he said.

AKEL leader Andros Kyprianou wrote to Omirou asking him to sanction his DISY namesake.
“In our view, abuse towards colleagues and indecent acts against them are unacceptable, unheard of, and unprecedented,” he said.

Kyprianou also asked that the matter be discussed during Thursday’s meeting between party leaders.
Omirou said if Kyprianou wanted the matter discussed during the leaders’ meeting then it will be discussed.

But he said all that happened should not have been an issue for the police, urging the two to have a talk and “give explanations.”

On Tuesday, Kyprianou, the DISY MP, said it was a sad event and the police should not have been involved.

However, he said, there was a voice recording of the meeting, which clarified what had happened.

“And anyone who wants to see what really happened and see the truth, can go through the recording,” he said.

In a letter to Omirou he made public later on Tuesday, Kyprianou said he was being vilified on social media “on which Mrs Charalambidou and others posted various comments and publications that were extremely offensive and defamatory” and have caused great damage.

“You realise that the accusation for indecent assault is quite serious and unsubstantiated and false reports of me indecently assaulting Mrs Charalambidou do irrevocable damage,” the DISY MP said.

He asked Omirou to listen to the recording of the incident in their presence to get the full and correct picture.

Earlier Tuesday, DISY MP Stella Kyriakidou slammed sexist behaviour in parliament.

Kyriakidou, one of the party’s vice chairpersons, said there have been several incidents of sexist behaviour, comments, and innuendos in recent days.

“These behaviours cannot be accepted by anyone, no matter where they come from,” Kyriakidou said in a statement.

She said differing views were respected but sexist behaviour and sexist comments and abuse “cannot be tolerated.”

“Especially behaviour that could be perceived as encouraging racism, sexism, and bullying,” she said.

Two other female MPs also issued statements.

Socialist EDEK MP Roulla Mavronikola urged the attorney-general to investigate.

“Backward and extreme acts such as these are based on outdated standards and cannot be tolerated by a modern democratic society,” Mavronikola said.

“Most offending though, is to try and justify such incidents, which offend basic human rights, on the basis of subjective criteria and outdated patriarchal perceptions.”

AKEL MP Skevi Koukouma said Kyprianou’s action was perhaps the “most vulgar and immoral” ever committed by an MP inside parliament.

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