The Republic of Cyprus is currently considering the ratification of the Convention of the Council of Europe on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence, which opens the path for creating a legal framework at a pan-European level to protect women against all forms of violence, and prevent, prosecute and eliminate violence against women, as well as domestic violence. This was revealed by Justice and Public Order Minister Ionas Nicolaou during his opening speech at an event organized by the Department of Working Women (TEK) regarding domestic violence.
According to Nicolaou, the adoption of such a landmark Convention will positively contribute to the Cypriot government’s efforts of improvement and modernization of the country’s legislation policies on the matter. The Convention was finalized on May 2011 in Istanbul, while it started on August 1, 2014. As the Minister described, one in five European women experiences physical violence during their adult life at least once, while the same portion experiences domestic violence, which is one of the main causes of death. In addition, one in ten women in Europe are victims of sexual violence at least once.
The so-called “Istanbul agreement” is an important international instrument that can contribute to the development of a comprehensive legal framework for the protection from any form of violence against women, while at the same time promoting inter-communal cooperation to combat and punish the abusers.
Cyprus’ accession to the Istanbul Convention is addressed by the government in all seriousness and studied at the Ministerial Equality between men and women Committee, in which five competent Ministers participate, who have already completed and delivered a report to the Commission.
According to its declaration, the Convention’s purpose is to: Condemn all forms of violence against women and domestic violence; Recognize that the realization of de jure and de facto equality between women and men is a key element in the prevention of violence against women; Recognize that violence against women is a manifestation of historically unequal power relations between women and men, which have led to domination over, and discrimination against, women by men and to the prevention of the full advancement of women; Recognize the structural nature of violence against women as gender-based violence, and that violence against women is one of the crucial social mechanisms by which women are forced into a subordinate position compared with men; Recognize, with grave concern, that women and girls are often exposed to serious forms of violence such as domestic violence, sexual harassment, rape, forced marriage, crimes committed in the name of so-called “honor” and genital mutilation, which constitute a serious violation of the human rights of women and girls and a major obstacle to the achievement of equality between women and men; Recognize the ongoing human rights violations during armed conflicts that affect the civilian population, especially women in the form of widespread or systematic rape and sexual violence and the potential for increased gender-based violence both during and after conflicts; Recognize that women and girls are exposed to a higher risk of gender-based violence than men; Recognize that domestic violence affects women disproportionately, and that men may also be victims of domestic violence; Recognize that children are victims of domestic violence, as well as witnesses of violence in the family; Aspire to create a Europe free from violence against women and domestic violence.