On the occasion of World Day for the Prevention of Child Abuse, the advisory committee against family violence on Friday called for amendments to family law in Cyprus to reflect the impact of violence against women on children.

“Today highlights the severity of the problem and the need for governments to adopt political action to prevent and fight all forms of child abuse,” a statement said, adding that the correlation between domestic violence against women and child abuse is rarely discussed.

Children make up the majority of people vulnerable to the effects of intimate partner violence, the statement added, as it exposes them directly or indirectly to violent, controlling, threatening or humiliating behaviours.

These behaviours have a negative impact on children, creating a higher risk of psychological, social and behavioural issues, and even death, “therefore in most cases a child’s best interests are linked or dependent, upon their mother, especially when they live together”.

The committee highlighted a European Parliament resolution signed on October 6 on the impact of intimate partner violence and custody rights on women and children, saying it highlighted the importance of securing the rights and safety of mothers and children in abusive family environments.

It made specific reference to remarks 35 and 47, which stress the need for the interconnectedness of criminal, civil and other legal proceedings in cases of domestic violence, and also the exchange of information between courts, the central authorities.

To this end, the committee called for reforms in Cypriot family law in accordance with the Istanbul convention, the UN declaration on the rights of the child, and the CEDAW convention’s recommendation No.35 on gender-based violence.

“It is imperative to amend clause 216/1990 to include a provision linking violence against women with protecting children’s best interests in communication and custody mattes, especially when the child lives with the mother”.