By Evie Andreou
Next year, Cyprus will have a specialised establishment where child victims of sexual abuse and exploitation will have access to the necessary services aimed at reducing the traumatic effects of the complaint-management process, state officials announced on Wednesday.
In a special ceremony to mark the first European Day on the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse, a representative of labour minister Zeta Emilianidou said the ‘House of the Child’ will be up and running in the second half of 2016. Its establishment was a decision of the ad hoc ministerial committee appointed earlier in the year to coordinate the preparation of a national strategy for the protection of children against sexual exploitation, abuse and child pornography.
The ad hoc committee, whose special advisor is lawyer Anastasia Papadopoulou, is made up of the ministers of labour, health, education and justice.
“The committee has already decided to create the ‘House of the Child’ in order to direct children’s access to necessary and appropriate services and reduce the traumatic effects suffered by each child in the complaint management process and any potential re-victimisation and stigmatisation of the child victim,” Emilianidou said in her speech, read by her ministry’s permanent secretary Andreas Assiotis.
The house has been donated by the Association of Greek Ladies ‘Enosi’, Assiotis said, whose administrative committee also decided to offer €330,000 for repairs.
“Child sexual exploitation and abuse are a tragic and dark reality of the modern society we live in and it is a flagrant violation of children’s rights, equal to violence over a person who is not capable of self-protection and creates serious consequences throughout the child victim’s life,” Emilianidou’s message said.
The Representative of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), DISY MP Stella Kyriakidou stressed the importance of the ratification of the Lanzarote Convention and the adoption of a law on sexual violence against children.
“One in five children will come into contact with some form of sexual violence before the age of 18. As politicians we must address this violation of human rights of children,” she said.
Kyriakidou said that the European Day on the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse, set for November 18 on the initiative of the Committee of Ministers from the Council of Europe, aims to maintain the momentum of the CoE One in Five campaign to end sexual violence against children.
“The purpose is to raise awareness about sexual exploitation and abuse, facilitate open debate on the protection of children’s rights and also help to stop the stigmatisation of victims,” she said.
Children’s Rights Commissioner Leda Koursoumba said the prevention of sexual violence against children, and their protection, was a priority for her office.
“The establishment of this day is to extend the positive results of the CoE’s campaign One in Five for further information, awareness and mobilisation of society, particularly in combating this heinous crime against our children,” she said.
At the event the new animated video for children “Talk to someone you trust, was presented. It aims to help children victims of sexual violence to talk to someone about their negative experience.