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Proposed bill against sexism provides for steep fines

Skevi Koukouma

A proposed bill against sexism providing for steep fines and jail sentences has been jointly tabled by Akel, Disy and Diko on Monday.

The bill is a combination of three proposals tabled separately by MPs of the three parties, members of the House human rights committee, on sexism and online sexism.

The proposed penalties include fines between €3,000 and €10,000 and jail sentences between one and five years.

Discussion on the bill is expected to start in September given that parliament committees will stop at the end of July for summer.

One issue that has been raised is whether the bill will concern sexism against women or men too.

Akel MP Skevi Koukouma said her party’s proposal concerns sexism towards all people, men and women.

She said they have heard divergent views from women’s organisations and other institutions.

“It is important for us to tackle sexism against everyone and not just against women,” she said.

She accepted, she said, that sexism is mainly directed against women. “But if we are to take this step forward, we must do so correctly and comprehensively towards each of our fellow humans who face sexist behaviour and discrimination,” she said.

Disy MP Annita Demetriou too said the suggestion concerns both sexes but that will also depend on the opinion of women’s organisations, the competent ministries and the commissioners of gender equality and law.

This issue would be discussed so all parties reach a consensus.

Diko MP Christiana Erotokritou who suggested the online sexism aspect, said her proposal aimed at filling a legislation gap.

Erotokritou said several complaints reached her from women who had received offensive content online such as photos and texts, who, when they reported these incidents, were told  there was no legal framework so that the senders could be brought to justice.

“Cyber (sexist) attacks, not only harm the dignity of women but also hinder them in the workplace, even lead to them leaving their jobs and the internet, undermining freedom of speech and opinion in a democratic society,” Erotokritou said.

The MPs stressed the importance of the proposal voted into law to help stamp out any form of sexism from Cypriot society.

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