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Key parliamentary vote in Cyprus kicks off drive to end child sex abuse

Details of a series of events and activities in Cyprus aimed at ending sexual violence against children – beginning with a key parliamentary vote – are to be presented at a press conference at 11 am on Wednesday 12 November 2014 in the A.G. Leventis Art Gallery in Nicosia.

The following day, on Thursday 13 November, the House of Representatives is expected to ratify the Council of Europe’s ground-breaking “Lanzarote Convention”, which spells out ways to tackle new crimes such as online child pornography, grooming and sex tourism, and encourages reporting of suspected abuse. 34 other European countries have so far ratified the Convention.

In the run-up to Universal Children’s Day on 20 November 2014, representatives of a constellation of international and Cypriot organisations active in the fight against child sex abuse will outline the impact of this historic vote, and give details of a host of awareness-raising events and activities taking place in the following days to drive home the message, including:

• a series of local awareness-raising events around the island – ranging from a seminar in Larnaca on violence in the family to a lecture in Nicosia for parents and a half-day seminar there for teachers
• a new Greek language dedicated website for the Cypriot public which aims to present the essential aspects of the ONE in FIVE campaign in Cyprus
• a seminar by the creator of the successful “Sweetie” project, which unmasks online child sexual predators using a virtual girl
• the presentation, on 10 December, of an in-depth study from the University of Cyprus concerning the true scope of sexual violence against children on the island

“Cyprus is about to take a dramatic leap forward in its efforts to protect children,” said the General Rapporteur on Children of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), Stella Kyriakides (Cyprus, EPP/CD). “Our aim is nothing less than to stamp out, once and for all, this vile crime, which does such terrible damage, destroying young lives and wiping out futures. Part of the answer is our powerful new law, but we must also encourage young people – and those around them – to ‘break the silence’ and speak up if they suspect abuse is taking place, as shown in ‘the Lake’ video spot.”

Participants will include the Council of Europe Steering Group and its local partners, including the A. G. Leventis Foundation, the University of Cyprus, Hope for Children UNCRC Policy Centre, the Office of the Commissioner for Children’s rights, the Municipality of Nicosia, the Cyprus National Commission for UNESCO, and the Independent Advisory Committee for the Prevention and Combating of Violence in the Family.

The press conference will be held, in Greek and English, at 11 a.m. on Wednesday 12 November at the A. G. Leventis Art Gallery, 5, A. G. Leventis St (ex Leonidou St), 1097 Nicosia, Cyprus. For further information or accreditation: Anne Godfrey, Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly, [email protected], local mobile +357 991 830 59.