An updated code of conduct for the prevention and combating of sexual harassment in the field of theatre was presented on Wednesday by the Cyprus Theatre Organisation (Thoc).

The new code was created in collaboration with ombudswoman Maria Stylianou-Lottides and aims to protect both men and women who fall victim to sexual harassment in the workplace, so that they can proceed with complaints without fear.

The code will be made publicly available on Thoc’s website in the next few days, after its legal aspects are discussed with relevant unions.

“This will be a very useful manual that will deal with the effective management of sexual and mental abuse, bullying, abuse of power and discrimination in the workplace,” Thoc board of directors’ chair Antigone Papaphilippou said during a press conference.

The manual will detail Thoc’s responsibilities as an employer and the rights of its employees, giving clear instructions on the procedures and actions that should be taken to prevent incidents of harassment and ensure a safe, dignified and healthy work environment for all, she added.

“As an employer, Thoc is obliged to take immediate action and apply any appropriate measures to prevent any act that can be considered harassment,” Papaphilippou added. “Every employee has an absolute and sacred right to feel safe at work. This is non-negotiable.”

No employee is alone, no matter their workplace, Lottides said, adding that the new code will ensure that victims will have access to the means and connections to make complaints about any kind of inappropriate behaviour.

She added that sexual and gender-based harassment constitute discrimination and a form of gender-based violence, and therefore “should be combatted at the root”.

The detailed complaints process will protect complainants’ employment status, no matter their post or working hours, Lottides explained, adding that “the truth will always be revealed”.

Workers’ unions Peo and Sek applauded Thoc’s decision, with Sek secretary general Andreas Elia saying that preventative action “will facilitate the right circumstances for the creation of the cultural output our society deserves”.

Asked if Thoc has received any sexual harassment complaints, Papaphilippou said that the organisation has not received any so far, but that they have been informed of complaints made to the police.

“We have not been informed on the number of complaints nor the number of complainants,” she noted, adding that Thoc has given the police any information required for investigations.