By Evie Andreou
In the past decade 30 women have lost their lives in Cyprus due to domestic violence, permanent secretary of the justice ministry Andreas Mylonas said on Monday.
Speaking at the meeting of the House committee on human rights, Mylonas conveyed Minister Ionas Nicolaou’s commitment for the signing and ratification of the Istanbul Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence.
The convention was adopted by the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers in April 2011 and it entered into force on August 2014.
Mylonas told the committee that the aim of the government was the fortification and implementation of the convention, and that authorities were proceeding with “solid steps so that the necessary mechanisms and structures are created for its application”.
In the last ten years, the MPs heard, 30 women lost their lives due to domestic violence, while the numbers of people who ask for counselling – both victims and perpetrators – had increased by 300 per cent in the same period.
Mylonas said that the justice ministry would coordinate the ratification and implementation of the convention, but that other ministries were also involved.
He reassured committee members that his ministry was working toward the earliest possible ratification, and a bill on stalking is currently in the works, expected to be ready in a couple of weeks.
MPs have been expressing concerns on the delay of the ratification of the convention since last year. President Nicos Anastasiades announced last month that the signing of the convention was imminent.
DISY MP Stella Kyriakidou made a plea to anyone possessing any information on domestic violence cases or other forms of violence, to seek advice and help from services and organisations.
“Shame and silence paralyses you, which leaves things to evolve very unpleasantly,” Kyriakidou said.
She also said that often the conviction prevails that if the victim speaks up, they will be responsible for breaking up the family, and this was why many domestic violence victims kept silent and endured the suffering.
“We would prevent very tragic endings if everyone helped to empower victims to be able to speak out because the silence helps the continuation of violence,” Kyriakidou added.