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Cyprus

Akel submits bill modernising definition of rape

The House legal affairs committee started discussion on Wednesday on a bill to modernise the definition of rape which has not been changed for the past 60 years.

The bill was submitted by main opposition Akel that argued that a series of articles of the penal code needed modernisation including the definition of rape.

“It is a provision inherited from the colonial definition, which goes back more than 60 years,” Akel MP and committee member Aristos Damianou said.

He added that in the UK the definition of rape has long since been updated.

The bill expands the definition of rape with a focus on lack of consensus and includes, in addition to the traditional notion of vaginal rape, to include anal and oral penetration.

“This reference clearly expands the existing legal framework and therefore the forms of criminal acts,” Damianou said.

He added that the bill also includes forms of rape of men.

It will also modernise another outdated reference of a man faking his identity so that he can have intercourse with a married woman by fooling her that he is her husband.

Code 144 of the penal code on the definition of rape says: “Guilty of the criminal offence of rape is whoever enters into illegal intercourse with a woman without the victim’s consent or if she has given her consent under the state of violence or fear for her physical integrity or in the case of a married woman by pretending to be her husband.”
Damianou said Cyprus ratified in 2017 the Istanbul Convention on the prevention and combating violence against women and domestic violence which includes a series of modernising provisions.

He added that his party’s intention is a comprehensive effort to adopt “the philosophy and letter of the Istanbul Convention, beyond the traditional form of rape, which is vaginal violence.”

He expressed satisfaction that all attendees welcomed the initiative. The justice ministry and other stakeholders were given two weeks to submit their comments and positions.

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