Cyprus Mail

Consensus reached on updating definition of rape

Skevi Koukouma

The House legal affairs committee on Wednesday reached a broad consensus on a draft bill modernising the definition of rape under the law, they said.

MPs hope, following further discussions with the justice ministry, that the bill can go to the plenum for a vote within weeks.

Discussions began in June this year to modernise the definition of rape, which has not been changed for the past 60 years.

The bill was submitted by main opposition Akel, which said that in other EU countries the definition of rape had long since been updated.

The bill expands the definition with a focus on lack of consensus and includes, in addition to the traditional notion of vaginal rape, to include anal and oral penetration. The bill also includes forms of rape of men and other provisions related to sexual abuses against children.

Code 144 of the penal code on the definition of rape currently 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.”

In 2017, Cyprus ratified the Istanbul Convention on the prevention and combating violence against women and domestic violence which includes a series of modernising provisions.

The 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.”

Akel MP Aristos Damianou, one of the main proponents of the bill, said on Wednesday that he and fellow party member Skevi Koukouma had worked out a number of proposals for amending the penal code. “We have proposed modernising provisions that take into account the needs of a modern society,” he told reporters after the meeting.

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