Cyprus Mail
Cyprus

Sexist slur a ‘wider phenomenon’, says ombudswoman

Akel MP Irene Charalambidou

By Evie Andreou

THE recent sexist incidents against a female MP are not random or isolated but rather part of wider sexist and derogatory behaviour against women in politics, the Administration and Human Rights Commissioner Eliza Savvidou said in an announcement on Thursday.

Last week, AKEL MP Irene Charalambidou reported a DISY deputy for reportedly trying to take an up-skirt photo of her during a fracas, while last month some comments she made on an issue were answered by another DISY MP, with innuendos about her morality.

The latest incident also caused the ire of other female MPs who issued announcements and said sexist behaviour, comments and abuse cannot be tolerated.

“Parliament mirrors social reality and affects the social and political life,” ombudswoman Savvidou said.

She added that the incidents are indicative of the degree of an especially serious problem concerning respect of human rights and combating violence against women.

The unacceptable sexist assaults against the MP, the announcement said, showed that politics is still considered as male dominated.

“Sexism against female politicians is real and legal reaffirmation of equality has failed to address it,” she said.

Cypriot society is ridden with sexism, the announcement said, and these type of behaviours violate a number of fundamental human rights and discourage more female participation in the political scene, “in a country where the percentage of female politicians is extremely low”.

She added that reaction and condemnation of such incidents by all MPs is needed as well as finding ways to control sexism through the parliament’s house rules.

The announcement adds that the majority of women experience sexism daily, either through an ‘innocent comment’, ‘excessive intimacy’, jokes and comments on looks, behaviour and personality, as well as through the escalating aggression and violence in many forms.

“But the society and the state ignore how dangerous these behaviours are, even though they affect almost half the population,” it said.
It added that she intends to prepare a report on the issue in autumn, with the aim to start a public dialogue.

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