By Evie Andreou
The public has until the end of the month an opportunity to express their opinion on a bill aiming at updating the law on the prevention and combatting of violence against women which provides for much harsher penalties for offenders than existing legislation.
The justice ministry, which launched a public consultation on the bill, will be accepting suggestions until September 30.
The bill aims at harmonising national legislation for better application of the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, also known as the Istanbul Convention. Cyprus ratified the convention last November.
It provides for much harsher penalties for those found guilty of assault, rape, sexual abuse and other offences against women.
The proposed maximum penalty for indecent assault against a woman is being raised from two to 10 years in prison. Those found guilty of assault will see maximum penalty raised from one to three years in prison, while fines have been increased fivefold, to €5,000. For grievous bodily harm, the maximum penalty is being raised from seven to 12 years.
As regards rape, for which the maximum penalty is currently 14 years in prison, convicted offenders could be sentenced in life imprisonment as per the bill in question.
The bill also proposes significant increase in prison sentences concerning offences against minors.
Offenders convicted of attempted corruption of girls under 13, could face 15 years in prison. The existing legislation provides for maximum three years in prison.
For corruption of girls under 13, the proposed maximum sentence remains as is, life imprisonment. Those found guilty of corruption of girls between 13 and 16 could face up to 20 years in prison, which is a tenfold increase of the sentence provided by the existing legislation. The same sentence is proposed for corruption of women with mental and or psychological disability, which too is currently punishable by up to two years in prison.
The penalty for illegally detaining a woman is being increased from five to 10 years in prison.
Offenders found guilty of stalking would be subject to five years imprisonment. Current maximum penalty is three years.
For forced marriages, the penalty has been raised from two to three years in prison.
Those found guilty of female genital mutilation could face 10 years in prison, which is double the penalty currently provided by law. The proposed law also provides for life imprisonment for forced abortion and sterilisation. The maximum penalty is now 14 years in prison.
The aim of this bill, the justice ministry said, “is to take measures to prevent, suppress and combat violence against women, to protect and support the victims of such offences, to prosecute the perpetrators and to promote international cooperation in the implementation of the above measures.”
The bill proposal (Greek only) may be found at: http://www.mjpo.gov.cy/mjpo/mjpo.nsf/All/A9E6B2B5A82F402AC225830C00357322?OpenDocument
For suggestions: [email protected] or by fax at: 22 518356.