Cyprus Mail

AKEL lambasts ‘sexist DISY’

Andros Kyprianou

Andros Kyprianou, leader of main opposition AKEL, sought on Sunday to whip up the female vote ahead of the coming legislative elections by branding archrivals DISY as a conservative party with sexist tendencies.
Addressing a gathering of POGO, the AKEL women’s wing, Kyprianou skilfully interlaced criticism of the DISY-led administration’s social and economic policies with the status of women in Cypriot society.
“Many more women could have been among us here today. But they are working, even if it is a Sunday,” he said in his opening shot.
He was alluding to the contentious issue of extended shop hours and stores staying open on Sundays, which AKEL opposes.
“The Anastasiades-DISY government insists on blindly and dogmatically serving the interests of a handful of businessmen. This at the expense of small and medium-sized business, but mainly at the expense of women who are working for miserly wages. Women struggling to help their families and at the same time have a social life.”
The administration’s austere welfare policy is also taking its toll on women, Kyprianou said.
“People are being humiliated when they have to prove they are just one step before poverty in order to be eligible for state support. Single parents, 90 per cent of whom are women, every day they wake up stressing whether their [benefits] application has been approved. At the same time they are wondering how they can raise their children on the crumbs which the government has decided are enough to bring up a family.”
The AKEL chief then turned to incidents of chauvinism in public life. He was understood to be referring to an incident taking place last June involving AKEL MP Irene Charalambidou and DISY’s Andreas Kyprianou, who allegedly tried to take a photo up her skirt in parliament.
The episode followed DISY’s announcement earlier in the same month which said it would not accept insults and bigoted verbal attacks with sexist innuendo, whatever the cause, especially when those attacks originate from party officials.
In June 2015, DISY MP Andreas Themistocleous posted on Facebook that Charlambidou “is the utmost authority on measuring manhood,” responding to her remarks that “manliness is not measured by brutality but by the soul that accepts humans and fights for them” in connection to the plenum vote in early June when legislation was passed criminalising homophobia.
“Lately,” asserted Kyprianou, “public life has been dealt a blow by incidents of sexism which went beyond the pale. It is no accident that those starring in these incidents were MPs of the DISY party.
“Only from representatives of conservatism, harking back to other eras, could such behaviours be manifested. And sadly, instead of taking a ruthless stance against these behaviours, DISY chose to sugar-coat them.”
Kyprianou went on to harangue the other parties for paying lip service to gender equality. His party, he said, was the only one which does not support gender quotas, but despite that the party can boast the highest female representation.
This, he argued, exposed the hypocrisy of the others, whereas for AKEL, equality of the sexes is embedded in the party’s culture.
“For AKEL, working women should be at the forefront, and not posing like dolls on the society section of magazines.”
That is why AKEL’s ticket for the parliamentary elections included 11 female candidates, said Kyprianou.

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