The establishment of femicide as a distinct crime which will introduce aggravating factors in trials for gender-related killings of women will send a “groundbreaking message” on gender-based violence, the chairman of legal affairs committee, Nicos Tornaritis said Friday.
The Disy MP was speaking after the first day of discussions on the proposed law in parliament.
The bill proposal was submitted by House President Annita Demetriou and will see amendments in the criminal code in relation to the killing of women.
Cyprus is perhaps the first EU country to introduce such a change in the legislation, Tornaritis said.
“The parliament sends a groundbreaking message, because it is perhaps the first parliament that is in line with recommendations of the Council of Europe, but also with the requirements of modern times,” he explained.
According to the proposed law, the court, when calculating and imposing the sentence for the offence of femicide, will take into account as an aggravating factor that the death occurred as a result of violence by a sexual partner, torture or misogynistic violence, domestic violence or honour-based violence.
Aggravating factors will also include cases when the death occurred as a result of violence motivated by religious beliefs, sexual orientation and/or gender identity as well as the commission of the offence of female genital mutilation, violence for the purpose of or in the context of sexual exploitation and/or trafficking in persons and/or drug trafficking and/or organised crime.
In addition, the use of violence to achieve unlawful sexual intercourse, as well as targeted violence against women in the context of armed conflict, will be taken into account as an aggravating factor.
“It is not and cannot be possible for someone to murder a woman because she is a woman,” the chairman said.
The legal affairs committee heard the views of the representatives of the justice ministry, police, the legal service, the Cyprus bar association as well as the Associate Professor of Criminal Law at the University of Cyprus Law Department, Charalambos Papacharalambous who said he would take a position on the provisions of the proposal at a subsequent meeting.
Premeditated murder is punishable by life imprisonment, therefore in this particular case, the specific provisions would not apply since they already exist in the penal code, Tornaritis added.
Regarding the person who is murdered – and if it is a woman under any circumstance – then the specific provisions would be activated, he said.
For his part, Akel MP Andreas Pashourtides said “femicide is one of the most silenced and widespread forms of violence around the world”, noting his party has yet to study the proposal.
Cyprus saw more than 40 murders of women in the last decade, according to previous statements by Justice Minister Stephie Dracou.
Between 2010 and 2016, there had been 28 cases of femicide, with 75 per cent being the result of domestic violence while another 13 femicides, including two underage girls, were added to the death tally in 2019 and 2020. The majority of the perpetrators were male Cypriots.