Uproar after politician accused of sexual harassment

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Cyprus political parties on Wednesday came out in support of a woman who reported she was sexually harassed by a former Euro MP while openly condemning such behaviour.

Police confirmed that an investigation is underway into the woman’s complaint, in which she said a well-known politician and a former Member of the European Parliament assaulted her in 2014 when she was 24.

The case came into the public domain after the complaint was leaked to the press and on social media.

Women accusing people in public office of a sexual offence is uncommon in Cyprus.

Ruling DISY MP Annita Demetriou said the state is obliged to safeguard victims coming forward with reports of sexual harassment so that they can talk freely for justice to be served.

Main opposition party AKEL issued a statement noting that sexual harassment is a plague that society as a whole and the state must fight.

“Allegations of sexual harassment in politics, which have come to light recently must be investigated swiftly and decisively,” noted AKEL.

AKEL called on the authorities “to proceed immediately with their investigation so that whoever is responsible is held accountable before the law.

“We also call on any woman who has been sexually harassed in any setting to file a complaint”.

The Democratic Party (DIKO), in a statement, said as a matter of principle, zero tolerance should be exhibited for such phenomena, regardless of the identity, even more so when politicians in a position of power are involved.

Cyprus’ Greens have called the police to take immediate action without allowing for any evidence to be pushed under the carpet.

The President of the Solidarity movement, Eleni Theocharous called on the President of the Republic Nicos Anastasiades to take measures to protect the identity and personal data of victims coming forward.

Theocharous appeared concerned that the testimony of the woman reporting the politician was leaked to the press.

Meanwhile, the Commissioner for Gender Equality, Josephina Antoniou called on police to push ahead with investigations so as the risk of witnesses being pressured to alter their statements be reduced.

“Sexual harassment is a foul-smelling abscess that appears to infect many areas, poisoning the lives of many who have suffered it.

“The alleged perpetrators, no matter where they are located, must be treated in accordance with the prescribed procedures.”

The Commissioner for Personal Data Protection called on Police to speed up the process arguing that authorities have been calling on victims to come forward, and the state should be in a position to protect them.

Allegations of sexual harassment have come to the fore in recent weeks.

Following Olympic shooter Andri Eleftheriou reporting an official last month, another five athletes have come forward claiming they too were sexually assaulted by those they trusted.

Police are looking into several incidents of sexual harassment with two cases involving the sport’s official reported by Eleftheriou.

Another case involves a track and field coach, for whom police have reports from four different athletes that he had sexually abused them.

One more case involves a basketball coach reported to have sexually harassed one of his former players.

Eleftheriou, 36, was encouraged to speak out after Greek Olympic gold medallist Sofia Bekatorou revealed she had been raped.