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Our View: Police need to tread carefully over attacks on women

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Everyone condemned the weekend attack on a young Turkish Cypriot woman in Ayia Napa by thugs. Everyone agreed that such violence against a woman was totally unacceptable behaviour which brought shame on our society and had to be dealt with without delay.

It was the type of universal condemnation everyone expected, especially as the victim was Turkish Cypriot, which made the situation quite dangerous. Both sides, however, acted responsibly, taking a clear stand against the violence.

President Christodoulides condemned the attack personally and called the Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar, presumably to explain what had happened. It was probably unnecessary for him to say that the attack was not racially motivated, given that investigations were ongoing, even though he was probably correct.

Tatar, to his credit, did not try to make anything out of the attack, restricting himself to a tweet which said that “incidents that negatively affect the peaceful atmosphere on the island are not acceptable.” He also asked for the bicommunal technical committee to monitor the situation.

Meanwhile, the victim, Asia Karaali, said on social media that she did not want the incident “to cause tension and hostility between the two communities.” She thanked the police for acting promptly and arresting the perpetrators who had four-day remand orders issued against them. A third person is also wanted in connection with the attack.

There is no doubt the prompt response of the police ensured the situation stayed under control. The force may have ruined their good work subsequently by announcing that a friend of the victim had been spotted on CCTV taking a bat out of the boot of his car and returned to the scene of the assault; action would be taken against him.

It was as if they wanted to shift attention away from the assault, which was unnecessary, and bound to raise suspicions. After all, the police of the area had managed to turn the British teenager, who had been gang-raped a few years ago, from victim to accused, charging her with perjury, after forcing a confession out of her in very suspicious circumstances.

The Ayia Napa police should tread very carefully after that fiasco when dealing with cases of violence against women. The bat may have been used during the fracas, but if it were, this was a side-issue, a consequence of the assault by the thugs and should not have been treated by the police as being of equal importance. In this way the police undermined all the good work they had done in finding the suspected assailants and charging them.

Leaving aside the police, the political parties and the politicians made all the right noises about the incident, thus ensuring there was no escalation.

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