Within the framework of International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, the Mediterranean Institute of Gender Studies (MIGS) and the Association for the Prevention and Handling Violence in the Family, in cooperation with the Committee for the Prevention and Combating Domestic Violence, held a seminar entitled: Mapping the Gaps in Service Provision for Women Victims of Violence in the Family. The event took place at the Holiday Inn, Nicosia.
The seminar aimed to present the results of three research projects in relation to domestic violence and its links to poverty and social exclusion, as well as the evaluation of the current victim support system in Cyprus using a gender perspective. The seminar also aimed to encourage aconstructive dialogue on this issue amongst various relevant stakeholders and civil society organizations. Opening addresses were made by Ms Stella Kyriakidou, Member of Parliament, as well as Ms. Kiki Poyiadji, Vice-President of the Association for the Prevention and Handling Violence in the Family and Ms Susana Pavlou, Director of the Mediterranean Institute of Gender Studies (MIGS).
The first speaker was Ms Stalo Lesta, Research Associate at MIGS, who gave presented the results of research project “Poverty and Social Exclusion of Women Victims of Domestic Violence”, funded by the European Commission and the Cyprus Government within the framework of the 2010 European Year for Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion. During her presentation, Ms Lesta gave an overview of the main links between domestic violence against women and social exclusion in Cyprus demonstrating that poverty and social exclusion are indeed both a cause and a consequence of domestic violence against women in Cyprus. The research results revealed the various poverty traps experienced by women in Cyprus and the main barriers they face in leaving violent relationships and living independent lives free from violence. She also provided an overview of the gaps and weaknesses in the victim support system and mechanisms. She concluded that a gender equality perspective is needed and necessary in support and protection mechanisms for women victims of violence.
Ms Christina Kaili, Project Administrator and Researcher at MIGS, presented the results of a mapping study entitled “Mapping the Support System of Victims of Domestic Violence in Cyprus”, conducted in the framework of the European Commission Daphne III programme “REACT-React to Domestic Violence: Building Support System for Victims of Domestic Violence”. Ms Kaili’s presentation focused on the gender-sensitive evaluation and assessment of all aspects of implementation of the relevant legislation and policies on domestic violence, as well as the existing victim support system in Cyprus. Some of the findings revealed included the lack of systematic national data on the prevalence of domestic violence in Cyprus, the lack of awareness and expertise among relevant stakeholders dealing with victims of domestic violence, weakness and gaps in the provision of shelters and counseling services for women, as well as a general lack of a gender perspective in service provision, be it by the state or by NGOs.
The third and final speaker was Ms Martha Apostolidou, President of the Advisory Committee for the Prevention and Combating of Domestic Violence, who presented the results of an evaluation study of the health services provided to victims of domestic violence conducted by the Advisory Committee for Family Violence. The study revealed that there is a lack of confidence among the health professionals in effectively handling cases of domestic violence and providing adequate help to the victims. Additionally, the study revealed that there is a strong need for systematic training of health professionals both identifying and dealing with cases of domestic violence against women as well as in overcoming difficulties in accessing other community services.
The event attracted over 25 participants representing civil society organizations and NGOs, the Police, researchers and students, and other relevant stakeholders. The presentations were followed by intense discussion on the findings and issues at stake, and all participants agreed on the need for the immediate initiation of public dialogue on the issue. The non-attendance of key service providers at the event also highlighted the need for lobbying the state and government services to take into account the findings of the research presented and to the need to sensitize the various professionals involved in the victim support system.
The event was covered by all major newspapers in Cyprus, and the organizers were invited by radio and TV programmes to discuss the results of the research projects and the conclusions of the event.
Presentations presented at the workshop can be found below:
- Stalo Lesta, Research Associate, MIGS (Greek)
- Christina Kaili, Project Administrator and Researcher, MIGS (Greek)
- Martha Apostolidou, President, Advisory Committee for the Prevention and Combating of Family Violence (Greek)