There are serious cases of sexual harassment in Cyprus, MPs heard on Wednesday as discussion continued on unwelcome sexual advances and gender-based harassment in the public service as disciplinary offences.

The House legal committee is aiming to amend the public service law to explicitly include sexual harassment among the disciplinary offences of public servants.

According to the deputy chair of the committee Disy MP Photini Tsiridou, decision makers are looking into ways that will help to better give the necessary messages that such behaviours are not going to be accepted in the workplace and in society in general.

For his part, Akel MP Aristos Damianou said the left-wing party welcomes the explicit inclusion of sexual harassment among the disciplinary offences “at a time when sexual harassment and even worse abuse is reaching frightening proportions”.

“Society’s awareness of these issues must be raised to a peak, we believe it is very important to give visibility and a voice to these reprehensible forms of behaviour in the public service as well,” he said, noting that the party intends to vote for the amendment.

“We have serious cases of sexual harassment now, which are also recorded in the Republic of Cyprus. When we say and brag about the #MeToo Movement, we must say it and mean it,” the Akel MP added.

He noted that such incidents are reprehensible from whomever they come, especially when there is a relationship of influence or power against the victims.

However, Damianou said despite the fact that lawmakers are passing very important legislation, those laws are very rarely implemented and even more rarely are some people prosecuted and punished by the courts.

Along with the laws, the relevant authorities, the law enforcement agencies should become more aware, he said.