Parliament on Friday passed a bill raising the maximum penalty for rape to life imprisonment, changing provisions to the penal code in place since the island’s colonial years.
The proposal had been submitted by Akel MP Aristos Damianou who said an issue concerning a large silent section of society, the rape victims, has been regulated.
Damianou said the article in question has been in force since Cyprus was a British colony.
Rape, he said, is a crime that is rarely reported and even more rarely punished.
The bill allows crime-fighting authorities to categorise certain acts as rape. Rape does not only concern women, but men, and members of the LGBT community.
Under its provisions, penalties become stricter, in most cases entailing a standard sentence of life imprisonment.
The amendment spells out six different circumstances involving rape or attempted rape.
First, any unlawful vaginal, anal or oral penetration with a penis in another person’s body, without their consent, or with consent but under duress, entails a standard punishment of life in jail.
Second, any vaginal, anal, or oral penetration of a sexual nature in another person’s body and/or with an object, without that person’s consent, or with consent but under duress. Persons found guilty will get automatic life imprisonment.
Third, attempted sexual abuse via penetration, entails a maximum sentence of life imprisonment, but the length of the sentence is left at the court’s discretion.
Fourth, coercing another person – through intimidation – to commit rape, will entail standard life imprisonment.
Fifth, coercing another person – through intimidation – to commit sexual abuse by penetrating a third party, likewise provides for standard life imprisonment.
Lastly, coercing another person to have sexual intercourse or commit other acts of a sexual nature, will entail a maximum jail sentence of 10 years.