The cabinet has ordered the creation of an ad hoc ministerial committee to draw up a strategy for the protection of children from sexual exploitation, sexual abuse and child pornography, it was announced on Friday.
The committee will consist of the ministers of labour, education, health and justice, and the strategy must be finalised by the end of 2015, a statement said.
“The need to develop a national strategy for the protection of children from sexual exploitation, abuse and pornography is necessary for the purpose of maintaining a strict and proper implementation of the provisions of the relevant Council of Europe [Lanzarote] Convention which came into force in Cyprus on June 1, 2015,” it added.
There are an increasing number of cases of child sexual abuse being reported to the police and the number of people arrested for possession of child pornography is also up. Justice Minister Ionas Nicolaou said last month that in the first three months of this year, the Police Unit Combating Cyber Crime had handled 79 cases of child pornography compared to 106 cases in 2014 and 23 cases in 2013.
According to campaigners, one in five children in Europe and Cyprus have been or will be victims of some form of sexual abuse or exploitation.
According to the World Health Organisation in cases of sexual abuse and neglect for children, 85-95 per cent of perpetrators are someone the victim knows and trusts.
The Lanzarote Convention, created in 2007 by the European Council, paved the way to implement measures and good practices that protect children’s rights and ensured their wellbeing in every sector of society.