Cyprus

Minister calls on sexually abused to report cases to police

Justice Minister Emily Yiolitis on Tuesday urged people who have been sexually abused or harassed to find the courage to report their cases to the authorities.

Yiolitis met the assistant to the chief of police and the head of the force’s sexual crime squad, as well as actor Andreas Phylactou who told a TV interview on Monday that he had been sexually harassed by a director.

The minister said sexual harassment concerned everyone, irrespective of gender, age and sexual orientation, but the numbers were lower for men because they did not find it easy to report it.

“Unfortunately, social stereotypes have a negative effect and often don’t allow men to be the victim,” the minister said, adding that these stereotypes must be broken.

“I’m especially glad to be here today with a man, Andreas Phylactou, who found the courage and bravery to speak up, but also to encourage others to talk. Inaction by victims and witnesses protects the perpetrators,” Yiolitis said.

The justice minister appealed to the many people who wrote to her anonymously naming perpetrators to report their case to the authorities.

“Police cannot investigate anonymous complaints. I want the help of each one of us to lift the perpetrators’ protection,” she said.

“I am appealing once more to all those who suffered sexual harassment, (and) violence to find the courage to report their cases to the authorities, like Andri Eleftheriou did a while ago, providing the impetus for others to speak up.”

The minister said such cases have recorded a dramatic increase but it was encouraging that the police now had specialised units to handle such cases.

Phylactou thanked the minister for making the time to listen to his story first-hand.

“I saw the will to undertake the necessary actions so that everyone who suffered sexual abuse, either verbal or physical, to be able to give testimony to the proper units of the police without fear,” he said.

The actor said he decided to report his case because it was harmful to carry it inside for so long; “eating you up, blaming yourself, trying to justify it and preventing you from advancing.

“So, let everyone find the courage to express themselves in their own time. It is also very important for close family and friends to support these people because it is not an easy process.

“There is no reason to be afraid to speak up. There are procedures that protect you.”

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