Bill that defines violence as gender-based presented

Sentences that will be higher and more severe are included in the new bill criminalisingviolence against women, said Justice and Public Order Minister, Ionas Nicolaou, noting that for the first time in Cyprus such wide changes are being proposed to fight gender-based violence.

He told a press conference, together with Commissioner for Gender Equality, Iosifina Antoniou, that for rape, the sentence remains for life, attempted rape is increased from ten to 15 years, indecent assault against women from two years will now be subject to ten-year imprisonment, for assaulting a woman under the age of 13, the sentence remains for life and attempted assault from three to 15 years.

With regard to the offence of assaulting a woman with mental health disorder and/or mental disability, the sentence is increased from two to 20 years in prison, the illegal detention of a woman from five to ten years, indecent assault from two years is increased to five years, for attempted indecent assault it is increased from seven to fifteen years, for severe physical injury from seven to 12 years, for injuries and similar acts increased from three to seven years, and for joint attack, imprisonment increases from one to three years while the financial penalty increases from one thousand pounds to five thousand euros or both.

For harassment, imprisonment increases from three to five years, sexual assault at work from three to five or a 10,000 euro fine or both.

If a woman who is in a vulnerable position as a result of mental or physical disability or dependency, is assaulted, the suspect will be guilty of felony and, if convicted, is subject to imprisonment of no more than 20 years. If the assault takes place due to coercion, violence or threat, a suspect is guilty of felony and is subject to 20 years in jail.

The minister said this new bill, reforms, modernizes and widens the existing legislative framework to combat violence against women, further provides provisions that enhance the protection of women and young women who have been subjected to violence and attempt to escape. It is a complete set of preventative actions that handles all forms of violence that are included in the Constantinople Convention, he added.

The Minister further said that the government is preparing a bill that will criminalise behaviours such as stalking.

Violence against Women, especially domestic violence, is a social phenomenon that is constantly increasing and knows no cultural, geographic, economic boundaries, said Commissioner for Gender Equality, Iosifina Antoniou.

In her speech, Antoniou said that the new bill for the first time defines violence as gender-based and provides for an increase in sentences thus strengthening the legal framework.

She said violence against women, especially domestic violence, is a rising social phenomenon, that knows no cultural, economic or geographic boundaries and stems from social stereotypes and prejudices that are based on mans power over woman.

She said women on a daily basis, suffer pain and humiliation and for them to be able to escape from this grim situation, they must be certain that when they decide to take matters in their own hands, they will find support and the right treatment. It is everyone’s duty to create the conditions that will allow these women to get back on their feet and continue with their lives, the Commissioner said.

The Commissioner for Gender Equality also expressed the wish that society does not witness again unfair sentences and that citing various mitigating circumstances will not alter the substance of the sentences provided by the new bill.

Source: Cyprus News Agency