Greece’s PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis announced on Thursday that he will bring about new legislation to tighten sex abuse laws and help victims, while endorsing the #MeToo movement.
He also announced the launch of a digital platform, called metoo.gov.gr, where victims will be able to submit complaints via live chat and access information on sexual abuse.
“We should all adopt a common line on how to address the essence of sexual abuse,” Mitsotakis told Parliament.
He also announced stricter penalties for sex offenders as part of a government response to a slew of allegations of sexual abuse in the Greek theater and sports worlds.
“The #MeToo movement started four years ago in America. In Greece, it appeared in 2021. Today the silence has broken and it is the turn of action to break through the inertia,” the Prime Minister declared.
Sexual abuse and populism
But the movement “should not become a victim of vulgar political exploitation,” he cautioned, accusing main opposition SYRIZA and its leader Alexis Tsipras of “left-wing Trumpism.”
He said that the opposition has been behind a social media campaign to link the Conservatives with the alleged pedophilia scandal, involving the former head of the National Theatre of Greece, Dimitris Lignadis.
“The liberating movement is becoming a field of vulgar populism and vague accusations aiming to harm political opponents, as if rapists are divided into the right wing and left wing,” he said.
Presenting some of the proposed changes to the penal code, Mitsotakis said that the statute of limitations in sexual abuse cases involving minors is suspended until the victim reaches adulthood, while sexual abuse cases will be heard in court as a matter of priority.
The government will also establish a registry for any professional who comes into contact with children and adolescents, including coaches or people employed in summer camps and refugee facilities.
Backing the Greek Culture Minister
Mitsotakis also fully backed the handling of the Lignadis case by Culture Minister Lina Mendoni, describing her as a “very effective minister.”
He admitted, however, that she made a “big mistake” calling Lignadis a “dangerous man” in a press conference to address the sexual abuse allegations.
Mendoni faces opposition calls to resign after two men accused the National Theatre director she appointed of raping them when they were barely adults.
Tsipras demands minister be fired
Taking the floor, Tsipras hit back at the accusations of populism, saying the responsibility for the scandal belongs to the Prime Minister.
“We are not going to judge or much less condemn anyone, but let us all ask ourselves. Are there are no political responsibilities that are tantamount to a political scandal?” he asked.
But the former PM also distanced himself from the conspiracies spread in around social media with the hashtag #ND_pederastes (pedophiles).
“You insist on supporting and protecting Mendoni despite the outcry from the art world,” he told Mitsotakis.