Gender Commissioner slams remark normalising rape

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Gender Equality Commissioner Josie Christodoulou strongly condemned a Cypriot topflight football official’s sexist remark normalising rape culture.

In a letter addressed to the Cyprus Sports Association (KOA) and the Cyprus Football Association (CFA), Christodoulou expressed her profound dismay at the “unacceptable” comment and urged both associations to join her in denouncing this statement.

The comment was made by Yiannis Violaris, the director of football at Karmiotissa FC, during an interview with TV reporters following his team’s 5-0 thrashing by AEK Larnaca.

Violaris remarked, “When you can’t avoid being raped, sit back and enjoy it.”

What he said had initially gone unchallenged in the media.

Christodoulou criticised the comment as normalising rape culture, trivialising the gravity of such acts, and perpetuating gender stereotypes, whether consciously or unconsciously.

She argued that statements of this nature, particularly when made by individuals with public visibility who can serve as role models for men and boys, are entirely impermissible.

“Such statements are not only unacceptable but also promote violence and sexist behaviour,” said Christodoulou.

The Gender Equality Commissioner stressed that both KOA and the CFA must actively promote an environment of healthy and dignified sports for both women and men.

This entails ensuring that sports stadiums are safe spaces for individuals of all genders and displaying zero tolerance for statements and incidents of this kind.

Christodoulou underlined the state’s significant efforts to actively promote the participation of women in sports and combat issues such as sexual harassment, violence, and sexism.

She said that in recent years, prompted by movements like #MeToo, men have increasingly become allies in the fight against sexual violence and all forms of unacceptable gender-based behaviour.

In response to the growing outrage, Violaris issued an apology on Tuesday, expressing his regrets for how he had expressed himself.

He acknowledged the criticism from sports fans and the wider public was justifiable, arguing that he had “no intention of offending the dignity and status of any individual”.

Violaris extended his “sincere apologies for any offence caused” and thanked the public for their understanding.