A legal framework to tackle gender violence in compliance with the Istanbul Convention is expected to be put in place soon, Justice Minister Emily Yiolitis said on Monday, International Women’s Day.
“Achieving gender equality is a key condition for an innovative, competitive and prosperous economy,” the minister said.
“Today is not a day of celebration. It is a day of paying tribute to all the women of Cyprus, regardless of age, race, colour, language, religion, sexual orientation, political or other point of view, national or social origin, health status, disability, immigration or refugee status,” Yiolitis said, adding that women must fight an unequal and difficult battle every day.
Assuring the public she will be at the forefront of efforts to achieve gender equality, Yiolitis said that new legislation concerning violence against women is expected to be submitted to parliament for approval.
“I am pleased to announce today that after years since the ratification [of the Istanbul Convention] by the Republic, and many months of consultation, the legislative review has been completed and the bill will soon be submitted to parliament for approval,” the minister said.
The new bill provides a complete framework for penalties for using violence against women, protection and support of women who were abused as well as the prosecution of the abusers. It also provides for the establishment of a coordinating body to oversee the actions implemented as part of the convention.
The framework penalises financial and psychological violence, as well as the distribution of pornographic or sexual material.
An increase in the sentences concerning all forms of violence is also promoted under the new bill.
Meanwhile, actions to promote women’s employment are underway as part of the national action plan for equality between men and women, in force from 2019-2023, the minister added.
Yiolitis also referred to the nationwide movement during which multiple women decided to speak up this year about their experiences of sexual harassment or abuse.
The state has the obligation to empower women, the minister said, and ensure there is the “political will” to effectively combat cases of violence and abuse against women and for the exemplary punishment of perpetrators.
She reminded the public about the creation of special domestic violence units in the police which operate with officers “who have the required education, specialisation and training for the immediate and effective treatment of cases of violence and abuse against women.”
“The ultimate goal is the deconstruction of the deeply ingrained social prejudices and stereotypes, the abolition of authoritarian relations between the sexes and the elimination of gender discrimination and inequalities that govern all aspects of the public and private spheres,” Yiolitis added.
As part of her statements noting this year’s theme which focuses on women in leadership and how to achieve an equal future in a Covid-19 world, Cyprus Law Commissioner and the President of the Gender Equality Committee Louiza Zanettou tweeted a quote by the Former Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
“As women achieve power, the barriers will fall. As society sees what women can do, as women see what women can do, there will be more women out there doing things, and we’ll all be better off for it,” Zanettou wrote.
The Cyprus police also issued a message in support of women in the force and the fire brigade, releasing a video to show their history and their “work everyday for the force and the community”.