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Cyprus pilot project to combat child sex abuse hailed as ‘a great example’ for Europe

A three-year Council of Europe pilot project in Cyprus to strengthen policies against sexual abuse of children has been hailed as “a great example” for the rest of Europe.

Presenting the results of the project at a meeting in Strasbourg, the head of PACE’s Social Affairs Committee Stella Kyriakides (Cyprus, EPP/CD) said a comprehensive new law – following ratification of the Council of Europe’s Lanzarote Convention – and the adoption of a national strategy on child abuse in Cyprus were “major steps to a child-friendly handling of victims of sexual abuse”.

Other results of the project included:

• a decision to open a “Children’s House” following the Icelandic model, where medical evaluations, counselling and therapy can be offered to child victims, due to open in 2017;

• fresh research from the University of Cyprus which revealed that – as in the rest of Europe – one in five children are affected by sexual violence;

• a series of “good practice” workshops and training sessions for police, social services, psychologists, judges, schoolteachers and other staff in contact with children;

• Awareness-raising events around the island – including screenings of “The Lakevideo-clip – which encouraged young people and those around them to “break the silence” and report suspected abuse.

“All these steps underline the will of Cyprus society to fight this violation of the human rights of children, and to protect them,” said Ms Kyriakides.

Anastasios Paul Leventis, Chairman of the Board of the A. G. Leventis Foundation which funded part of the project, said it had exceeded expectations and would lead to “ongoing change in Cypriot society”.

The pilot project – part of the Council of Europe’s “One in Five” campaign to combat sexual violence against children and co-ordinated by PACE – was a joint initiative of the Cypriot Commissioner for Children’s Rights, the University of Cyprus, the “Hope For Children” UNCRC Policy Center, the City of Nicosia, UNESCO and the Independent Advisory Committee for the Prevention of Violence in the Family.

Contacts: Jannick Devaux ([email protected]) or Anne Godfrey ([email protected]).