The Limassol police unit tasked with investigating domestic violence cases responded to 180 complaints in two months and made 29 arrests, Justice Minister Emily Yiolitis said on Wednesday.
The department started operating with ten officers on a pilot basis in September. It investigated 84 complaints and made 13 arrests during the first month of operation, and 96 in October which led to 16 arrests.
Recently, a corresponding department started operating with 11 officers in Nicosia.
“The government and me personally will do everything possible to tackle gender-based violence to the fullest extent,” Yiolitis said in light of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, which is marked on November 25.
The minister assured that gender-based and domestic violence, as well as the incorporation of the provisions of the Istanbul Convention into domestic legislation were high in her priorities.
A meeting among the stakeholders took place recently to discuss the existing bill criminalising violence against women and girls, the minister said.
“Our struggle and actions should focus on the exemplary punishment of the perpetrator but mainly to strengthen the voice of the victims and on their persistent, steady and continuous support, protection and empowerment,” she said.
Yiolitis added that her ministry was actively involved in the state’s attempts to establish a Women’s Home, a multidisciplinary centre for the support and empowerment of abused women.
The new shelter will open on December 1 and will operate as a “one stop shop”, where all relevant services will be housed together to assist victims.
“The women’s home will be accessible to all women (and their underage children) and girls (above 18 years old) who are victims of violence, without any discrimination including migrant or refugee women regardless of their migration or refugee status,” Labour Minister Zeta Emilianidou said on Wednesday.
Based on the Family Justice Centre model, the home will provide protection, psychological and financial support to the victims, as well as medical examinations for sexual abuse victims, legal services and the ability to refer women to police, court or hospitals when needed.
The management of the new shelter was assigned to the association for the prevention and handling violence in the family (Spavo).
In their statements to mark the day, Spavo said lockdown this year recorded a 40 per cent increase in domestic violence cases, in relation to previous years.
From January to November this year, the association hosted 263 domestic violence victims in their shelters across Cyprus. Another 1,163 people called the 1440 helpline for domestic violence, of those, 232 cases received counselling. Spavo also provided psychological support to 30 domestic violence victims through the SMS helpline service at 99984042.
“Lockdown has greatly affected the increase in violence. It seems that the long time period of staying at home with an abusive partner has led to an increase in the risk and frequency of incidents of violence,” said the scientific director of Spavo, Andri Andronikou.
Spavo launched their orange campaign to promote awareness for gender-based violence, under the title Fund, Response, Prevent, Collect. As part of the campaign, the association will ligt up orange their central offices in Nicosia until December 10.
To support their campaign, social media users can use a custom frame on their profile photos reading “There is no excuse, violence is a crime” in Greek.