Cyprus Mail
Crime Cyprus

The murders of 37 women over the past 19 years ‘could have been prevented’  MPs hear

In total, 37 women have been killed in Cyprus during the last 19 years, the majority by a former or current partner, but most of these murders could have been prevented MPs heard on Monday at the launch of a discussion on the need for a study into femicide.

The House human rights committee, which discussed the matter said they would like to help shape a clear picture of the actions taken by all competent parties to deal with femicide.

The discussion was initiated by Akel MPs Skevi Koukouma, Evanthia Savva and Irini Charalambidou following the seven murders by serial killer Nicos Metaxas and that of Sophia Zenonos, 26, who was shot dead by her former partner at the end of last month in Limassol before killing himself.

The discussion will continue right after the summer holidays and the committee said they would invite state services and non-governmental organisations for their input. MPs said, on their part, they would be sure to vote into law the soonest any necessary laws.

According to Koukouma, the head of the committee, there have been 37 femicides since the year 2000, the majority of which were carried out by former or current partners.

“These numbers are disheartening. One would expect that the necessary steps would have been taken by everyone involved so that tackling gender-based violence was a priority,” she said.

Sadly, she said, there have not been any legal adjustments, or any management protocols or societal awareness.

Law professor at the University of Cyprus, Andreas Kapardis, a criminologist, told MPs that based on a survey by the university, most of these murders could have been prevented through timely and effective protection of the victims, women and children, since they were preceded by domestic violence.

According to Kapardis, the murders were carried out with hunting or military-issued guns or kitchen knives. The majority of the cases concerned estranged couples or couples living together but were in the process of breaking up.

Kapardis suggested the permanent operation of a rapid response unit for the protection of woman against domestic violence.  A police representative told MPs there was no specialised team in the force to deal with such cases.

Kapardis suggested immediate law amendment so that the police and the National Guard could seize weapons in cases of domestic violence or serious threat of violence, and close monitoring by the state social welfare services of complaints of domestic violence.

The close and effective cooperation between competent services ought to be regulated by law so that they can exchange information in such cases, Kapardis said.

Disy MP Stella Kyriakidou expressed her concern over the way gender-based violence is dealt with. She said the committee has discussed with all competent services the need for specific actions for a comprehensive treatment of this crime.

Kyriakidou said a bill on stalking was still pending at the House legal affairs committee.

A number of those victims had repeatedly reported they were being stalked but unfortunately, the bill has not been voted yet by the House plenum yet, she said.

A representative of the justice ministry told the committee that procedures were also underway for the creation of Women’s House which will be dealing with cases of violence against women. It is expected to be up and running by the end of the year.

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