Authority-Sanctioned Abuse of Women’s Sexuality: Cyprus

So many of the major problems affecting women worldwide are related to the authority-sanctioned abuse of a woman’s ability to control her body and sexuality. This abuse is often the result of government officials’ greed and pressure from outside economic interests. This issue is typified in the sex traffic trade in Cyprus.

In Cyprus, while the government has passed some laws to discourage sex trafficking, it has also either not enforced the laws, or has made laws that make it easier for sex traffickers to import women. For example, the issuance of “artiste” and “entertainment visas” to female immigrants contributes to the ease with which women are trafficked from Europe and Asia through Cyprus and into the Middle East. These laws stem from the attitudes of those who are elected. According to the Mediterranean Institute of Gender Studies’ report “Mapping the Realities of Trafficking in Women for the purpose of sexual exploitation in Cyprus,” the former Minister of Justice, Doros Theodorou stated that “The dream of 45% of women is to become prostitutes.” He purported that “the Commissioner for Administration’s conclusion that the majority of women were blackmailed and forced to provide sexual services simply didn’t stand.” He made these statements in defense of his claim that many women brought to Cyprus as ‘artistes’ willfully engaged in prostitution and therefore there was no need to change the laws concerning work visas. This claim is clearly connected to the millions of dollars worth of sex trade money brought to Cyprus each year.

This justification of sexual violence against women by a government official is representative of the corruption of government officials who turn a blind eye to women who are powerless victims of exploiters. If the culture of a country is to change, the attitudes of those who represent the country must change. Women will continue to loose control of their sexuality as long as the government is more interested in economic growth than protecting basic human rights.

—by CJ

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