Panel discussion raises awareness on sexual violence in Cyprus
NICOSIA, 11 December 2015 – A panel discussion on the issue of sexual violence against women in Cyprus drew dozens of people to the Home for Cooperation on 10 December, wrapping up the annual 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence campaign and simultaneously commemorating International Human Rights Day. The discussion was hosted by the Home For Cooperation and UNFICYP.
2015 marks the 24th year of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence campaign, during which millions across the world unite under the banner colour orange, chosen to symbolize the brighter future of a world free from violence against women and girls. The UN Secretary-General’s UNiTE to End Violence against Women Campaign invites governments, UN agencies, civil society organizations and individuals from all countries of the world to mark the 16 days between 25 November and 10 December by coming together to step up efforts to end violence against women and girls.
Susana Elisa Pavlou, director of the Mediterranean Institute of Gender Studies, spoke about the realities of sexual violence against women in Cyprus, while Mine Yucel, director of the Centre for Migration, Identity and Rights Studies provided a statistical approach to the discussion. Maria Hadjipavlou, a renowned expert in the field of conflict resolution and feminism, spoke about gendered aspects of conflict; Gender Equality Committee coordinator Mine Atli talked about gaps in the legal and structural frameworks that allow gender violence to continue. The discussion was moderated by Salpy Eskidjian, executive coordinator of the Office of the Religious Track of the Cyprus Peace Process.
Opening the event, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General in Cyprus, Lisa Buttenheim, spoke of the importance of speaking out about the often taboo subject of sexual violence.
“[Eliminating sexual violence] means breaking the silence on sexual violence. And that’s why discussions like today’s are significant – they help to erode the stigma associated with sexual violence, facing it head on, admitting society’s weaknesses and finding ways to move forward,” she said.
“I join the Secretary-General in his call for us all to join forces to end this crime – not just during the 16 Days, but every day,” she added.