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Cyprus Internet Directory [ Domestic violence stats non-existent ]

Domestic violence stats non-existent

Author: 
Stefanos Evripidou

NATIONAL DATA on the prevalence of domestic violence in Cyprus is non-existent, making it near impossible to get a true picture of the situation, said a new report conducted by the Mediterranean Institute of Gender Studies (MIGS).

The report notes that domestic violence is one of the least reported crimes in Cyprus and has one of the lowest conviction rates in Europe, despite reported cases of domestic violence doubling in the last decade.

As part of an EU-funded project to build a support system for victims of domestic violence, MIGS carried out a study on implementation of the relevant legislation and policies on domestic violence.

According to the report, available in Greek and English online, the only data available on domestic violence is that collected by the police and the Association for the Prevention of Violence in the Family.

“The scarcity of data on violence against women means that we are dependent on police statistics for identifying trends in reported violence against women, but lack a true picture of the prevalence of domestic violence in Cyprus.

“This obviously impedes informed policy making on the issue, and results in inadequate support and protection services for women,” said the report.

From the available statistics, MIGS highlighted the evident increased trend of reporting domestic violence with reported cases almost doubling in the past decade. The available data also shows that the majority of victims are women who suffer violence from male family members.

The report notes that the increase in reporting rates may have been the result of increased government support, which has led to increased visibility of the issue.

“However, domestic violence continues to be one of the least reported crimes in Cyprus and conviction rates are among the lowest in Europe,” it said.

While a comprehensive legislative framework exists to combat domestic violence, it remains gender-neutral, failing to take into account the fact that violence disproportionately affects women and is perpetrated by men.

Also, no budget has been allocated for implementing the recently adopted National Action Plan for the Prevention and Combating of Violence in the Family (2010-2015).

“Despite the promise that comprehensive sex education was to be incorporated in the school curriculums during the recent educational reform, this did not take place presenting a missed opportunity to sensitise young people and challenge prevailing knowledge and attitudes on gender relations and sexuality issues,” the report noted.

The report also highlighted the inadequacy of existing shelters for victims of domestic violence which do not meet minimum standards in terms of number of places offered per population. Only one shelter operates in Nicosia, with only 12 places for women and their children.

The lack of specialised staff in all governmental services only serves to exacerbate the problem, said the report.

On a final note, the report highlighted that service providers often hold stereotypical attitudes towards the victims of domestic violence.

“The real dynamics of domestic violence are rarely understood and domestic violence myths are widespread resulting in a culture of ‘victim blaming’ that permeates most of Cypriot society,” it concluded.

A wide range of recommendations are made in the report, including calls for systematic research on the extent of these crimes and the need to recognise domestic violence as a form of male violence against women which should be interpreted “within the context of gender inequality and traditional power relations between women and men”.

The report also calls for the establishment of a domestic violence crisis centre providing specialised services for women including legal assistance, counselling services, psychosocial support and health services.

Meanwhile, a 24-hour hotline for victims of domestic violence must become operational without delay with specialised staff for immediate urgent intervention, it added.

 

FIGURES

According to the statistics of the Association for the Prevention and Handling of Violence in the Family, cases of domestic violence have tripled over the years 2004-2009 (from 397 cases in 2004 to 1,148 cases in 2009).

The vast majority of victims over this period have been women with 83 per cent in 2009 as compared to 8.6 per cent men.

Of these cases, 82 per cent were classified as involving psychological violence, 44 per cent physical violence, 0.7 per cent sexual violence.

The figures show an overlap in forms of violence, demonstrating that in many cases reports involve both physical and psychological violence. This trend in forms of violence has remained more or less consistent over the period 2004-2009.

For more information or to order a hard copy of the publication contact Christina Kaili at christina@medinstgenderstudies.org.



(Source: Cyprus Mail)
Copyright © Cyprus Mail 2008 Please contact Cyprus Mail for the copyright terms of this article.



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