One of the main goals of Cyprus’ new Commissioner for Gender Equality Josie Christodoulou is to criminalize the sex market – that is, the client.
At the same time, women in prostitution should be provided with a comprehensive exit programme, she told Phileleftheros in an interview.
“I will seek to initiate a public debate on policies related to prostitution and the sex industry, in order to move towards a new legal framework that protects these women,” she said.
The best model to be applied in Cyprus is that of Ireland, she added.
And she explained: “In Ireland, the sex market is criminalised, that is, the client. And at the same time, women are offered a comprehensive programme so as to exit prostitution.”
These programmes involve hosting women practicing prostitution in shelters and providing psychological support and empowerment.
They also provide them with training and skills development enabling them to enter the labour market.
“For me, prostitution is violence. It is purely power and control over a woman’s body. More needs to be done aiming towards its prevention,” she also said.
Christodoulou then referred to last week’s latest femicide of a 35-year-old Ukrainian woman who was providing sex services in Limassol. And she said: “One in four women in Cyprus has been confronted with some form of violence”.
But, she added, particular emphasis should be placed on the connection between trafficking in human beings and prostitution.
“It is highlighted by studies internationally that where prostitution is legal, trafficking is facilitated,” she said.