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“Combating Domestic Violence against children in Cyprus” Ms. Leda Koursoumba, Commissioner for Children’s Rights 1.

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Presentation on theme: "“Combating Domestic Violence against children in Cyprus” Ms. Leda Koursoumba, Commissioner for Children’s Rights 1."— Presentation transcript:

1 “Combating Domestic Violence against children in Cyprus” Ms. Leda Koursoumba, Commissioner for Children’s Rights 1

2 T HE I NSTITUTION OF THE C OMMISSIONER FOR C HILDREN ’ S R IGHTS :  Established by Law [L74(1)/2007]  In full compliance with the Paris Principles and GC No. 2 of the Committee on the Rights of the Child To protect and promote children’s rights THE MISSION OF THE COMMISSIONER 2

3 S TRUCTURE OF THIS PRESENTATION :  Brief overview of the current situation in Cyprus  The legal framework and procedures for handling cases of child abuse  Recommendations and initiatives of the Commissioner 3

4 Difficult to establish with any accuracy the extent and types and number of children victims:  Among the most underreported forms of violence  Lack of an accurate national registration system Domestic violence against children : Brief review of the current situation in Cyprus As in many other European counties a taboo issue compounded by a culture of silence and denial ! 4

5  “Domestic Violence in Cyprus” (2000):  97.7 % believe that domestic violence is a problem  1/3 states that there are occasions when a parent is justified in hitting a child  15% do not consider pushing, shaking, pinching or ear pulling of a child as forms of violence  “Dimensions and Forms of Violence against Children within the Cypriot Family” (2004) :  1/5 reported that they had been physically assaulted by a family member  1 / 2 reported that they had witnessed inter – parental disputes Domestic violence against children : Brief review of the current situation in Cyprus Two studies on a national level without clear consistency in their findings : 5

6  Addresses various forms of violence by any member of the family against another member  Inclusive approach which provides for the protection of victims, the punishment of those responsible and the provisions of therapy for those involved in incidents of domestic violence The legal framework and procedures for handling cases of child abuse The Violence in the Family (Prevention and Protection of Victims) Laws 2000 and L 119(I) /2000 & L 212(I)/2004 6

7 Section 2 (direct victimization) :  “ violence“ means any act, omission or behavior which causes physical, sexual or mental injury to any member of the family by another member of the family and includes violence used for the purpose of having sexual intercourse without the consent of the victim as well as of restricting its freedom.  The term “member of the family” in the context of the law has a wide meaning as it includes common law spouses, their parents and children, irrespective of whether such children are natural or adopted, and their grandchildren as well as also any person residing with any of the aforementioned persons The legal framework and procedures for handling cases of child abuse The Violence in the Family (Prevention and Protection of Victims) Laws 2000 and L 119(I) /2000 & L 212(I)/2004 7

8 Section 3 (indirect victimization) :  “when committed in the presence of a minor member of the family, shall be considered as violence used against the said minor if it may cause to him/her mental injury”. The legal framework and procedures for handling cases of child abuse The Violence in the Family (Prevention and Protection of Victims) - Laws 2000 and 2004 L 119(I) /2000 & L 212(I)/2004 8

9 Experts in their personal capacity : From the public sector (from the relevant Ministries and Services) From the private sector The legal framework and procedures for handling cases of child abuse To monitor of violence in the family in Cyprus To inform and enlighten the public and professionals To promote scientific research on the field related services in operation and the application of and compliance with, the relevant legislation. To promote the services for dealing with all aspects of violence in the family To monitor the effectiveness of the related services in operation and the application of and compliance with, the relevant legislation. Advisory Committee for the Prevention and Combating of Violence in the Family MULTIDIMENSIONAL MISSION: COMPOSITION: 9

10 The legal framework and procedures for handling cases of child abuse Advisory Committee for the Prevention and Combating of Violence in the Family A framework for the cooperation of relevant departments of family violence Manual of Interdepartmental Procedures (2002) 10 A national Action Plan for the Prevention and Combating of Violence in the Family (2010 – 2013)

11 Child Abuse Office (since 2002) The legal framework and procedures for handling cases of child abuse  Removal from family environment when it is in the best interest of the child  Trained family counselors have a wide range of responsibilities  Receiving complaints  Carrying out investigations  Advising  Counseling and mediating for the relief of problems in the family Social Welfare Services Police 11

12 12 Commissioner’s role, initiatives and recommendations Raising Awareness Commissioner’s work regarding the protection of children Monitoring governmental and legislative action Through my meetings with children I ascertained early enough that domestic violence is an issue of serious concern for them as well It is quite evident that there is a need to provide children with more information and guidance as to how to handle either personal experiences or experiences confided in them by their friends

13 Commissioner’s role, initiatives and recommendations Large number of complaints Unsatisfactory sentences to convicts of sexual abuse against children Commissioner’s public intervention (April 2008) The aim was to open a public dialogue Society should not remain silent Any decision taken should aim at protecting children from any form of abuse and also at giving a message to the society that such action can in no way be excused or condoned Publications in the daily press 13

14 Commissioner’s role, initiatives and recommendations Adoption of a National Strategy and Action Plan Banning all forms of violence Promotion of values against violence Reporting systemsInformation on children’s rights Awareness-raising campaigns Systematic training of professionals working with children National legislation to protect children from all forms of violence Assistance to parents for Positive Parenting. Detection – Reporting – Referral – Investigation – Treatment – Monitoring Establishment of a National Data Collection System Appropriate judicial involvement Provision of children’s rehabilitation and social integration programmes. Ensuring the participation of children Meeting of all competent authorities, governmental and non-governmental in May

15 Commissioner’s role, initiatives and recommendations Meeting of all competent authorities, governmental and non- governmental in May 2008 That initiative marked the beginning of an on – going process towards launching a National Strategy and Action Plan to tackle violence against children. 15

16 Current positive Developments (2010 / 2011) Minister of Labour and Social Insurance Parliamentary Committees Judicial Decisions Inter –ministerial committee a. The evaluation of existing programmes b. New programmes Initiatives to revise existing legislations to make them more effective in combating violence against children Higher terms of imprisonment for sexual offences against children, They stress the seriousness of such offences / obligation to protect victims/ family/ society 16

17 17 Awareness raising campaigns remain one of my main targets, and this relates to the issue of domestic violence against children Commissioner’s Visits to Schools Programme entitled “Give voice to your opinion Seminars on “Child Abuse” Collaboration with the Cyprus Police Pressure on the Government to expedite ratification the Council of Europe Convention on the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse

18 Domestic violence, the victims of which more often than not, directly or indirectly, are children, continues to be one of the major problems of modern Cypriot society. In order to tackle it - precisely because of its complex and particular nature – it is necessary, on the one hand, to study the issue scientifically and in depth, and, on the other, to implement coordinated action of the public and private sector agencies together with NGOs through civil society. This is the reason I insist that the development of a National Strategy and Action Plan for tackling domestic violence against children is sine qua non, if the state is determined to combat this major social problem effectively. Conclusion 18

19 Thank you for your attention! 19


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