Address by the General Secretary of AKEL A. Kyprianou, at the breakfast for women participating in public life
AKEL C.C. Press Office, 7 March 2019, Nicosia
Thank you very much for your positive response to our invitation. This initiative, now established as a custom, is being taken for a very simple reason: to highlight the need for women to have a greater role and a say; to point out the important role that we want women to have in the state, society and politic affairs.
We are constantly seeking to discuss with women about women in order to project the issues that concern them and to contribute to their solution.
What are the most important problems women face today?
No matter how strange it may seem, women face numerous problems in European societies that indeed seek to portray themselves as more advanced than others.
Gender violence, and domestic violence in particular, has become for women in Europe the first cause of disability and death, in fact more than road accidents or cancer. 1 out of 3 women over 15 years of age has suffered from violence, while 55% have been the victim of sexual violence at least once in their lives.
In Cyprus, 89% of victims of violence in the family are women.
In Britain, a woman is murdered every three days.
In Sweden, every ten days a woman is beaten to death by her husband or partner.
In Spain, a woman is murdered every four days.
In France, she is murdered every five days because of beatings at home.
Of these, 1/3 are stabbed, 1/3 killed by a firearm, 20% strangled and 10% are beaten to death.
Fifty women in the European Union are murdered every week by their current or former partner.
Every murder and violent that takes place because a woman hasn’t succumbed to all that is demanded by rotten perceptions, is an insult to the female sex. And given that it is an insult, it is an insult to us all.
Violence is not some private affair a woman suffers. There is no excuse. There is no justification. The perpetrator is not a good family man if he engages in violent acts. We won’t be “ruining” a family if we denounce violence, if we support the victims and if we take steps to save them from hell.
It is regrettable that we are forced to discuss what should be self-evident. Developments themselves force us to do so. Permit me to merely recall the recent decision taken by an Irish court ruling that there was a consensus was reached in a rape case because the victim was wearing lace underwear. There can be no excuse whatsoever for any violence and sexual harassment. There is no pretext. Nothing can be considered as consensus in a rape. We must all be very clear on this.
As far as women’s participation in public life is concerned, we ought to say things as they actually are. Proposals aren’t enough, nor are declarations and big talk. The socio-economic framework burdens women with dual tasks and charges them with double exploitation. What is at stake is to promote those policies, take those initiatives that will liberate women and strengthen their voice in public and social life and issues. The Government has the primary responsibility for promoting these policies. But all the political parties also have responsibilities and we have to take them on.
The gap between the two sexes ranks Cyprus 27th among the 28 EU member states according to the World Economic Forum. Gaps in pay, so therefore in pensions too. Gaps in the unemployment rate and in the number of underemployed. We want to raise these issues in the debate and promote policy proposals that respond to problems.
I could not conclude my brief introduction without stressing the importance of the struggle that the women’s movement is waging in our country for reunification and peace. With us today, like every year, are our Turkish Cypriot compatriots. Every image that we have from our country’s modern history is reflected in the image of a woman mourning over ruins, holding a photograph of her beloved person in anguish, waiting for her son, a woman who is struggling steadfastly for the peaceful future of her children.
We wish that in the years ahead these pictures will be placed in museums.
We wish that in the years ahead when the women of our country, both Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot, will be struggling together for the future they deserve. All this will be achieved through a just, workable and viable solution of the Cyprus problem.
Intervention of Georgos Koukoumas, member of the C.C. of AKEL and the International Relations Department, at the Hearing “Palestine: What’s Next?” organized by GUE/NGL2015-07-1
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