Every 27 hours one child is sexually abused in Cyprus, Commissioner for Children’s Rights Despo Michaelidou – Livaniou said on Wednesday, in a press release on the occasion of the European Day on the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse, on 18 November.
The above figure is derived from reports filed to the “Children’s House” and information provided by it in the framework of a survey on the impact of restrictive measures taken to contain the spread of the COVID-19, on children’s rights, the Commissioner explains.
In particular, a total of 241 reports have been filed between January and June 2021, a number that corresponds to 83% of the cases reported in 2019, the press release said.
“Restrictive measures imposed to prevent the spread of the pandemic have weakened the safety net for children,” it is noted.
In 2020, 324 children were confirmed to have been abused and “those are only the children that dared to speak,” the Commissioner for Children’s Rights says.
The 18th of November, she noted, marks the beginning of a collective effort in which all of us should declare zero tolerance towards child sexual abuse.
It is underlined that everyone must stay alert and recognise their obligation to reveal and report every case that comes to their knowledge, to properly inform children and to empower them in order to be able to recognise harmful behaviours and gestures and be encouraged to speak up and report such incidents.
“Coordinated actions by the competent authorities and state services are primarily necessary to safeguard the best interests of the child, both preventively and at all stages of the process: investigation of the complaint and speedy trial of the case, support of the victim and their family, but also immediate introduction of inclusive sex education at all school levels”, the Commissioner stressed.