On the 25th of November, MIGS staff joined forces with representatives of women’s organisations and NGOs, members of parliament and other stakeholders, in an act of solidarity and protest against the decision of the Supreme Court to reduce the sentence of Akis Lefkariti and Nikos Nikolaou for the rape of minor girls. As active members of civil society, we express ZERO TOLERANCE to SEXUAL ABUSE and EXPLOITATION of CHILDREN and RAPE CULTURE and VICTIM BLAMING. We demand justice for victims of sexual violence as well as the imposition of penalties and sentences that correspond to the severity of the crime and serve as a deterrent to perpetrators.

The Supreme Court accepted the request of businessman Akis Lefkaritis and codefendant Nikos Nikolaou to reduce their sentences from 12 to 9 years and from 10 to 7, respectively. We consider the decision an offence to the victims, sending dangerous messages to society on how Cyprus deals with cases of sexual exploitation of minors, and violence against women and girls. The decision of the Supreme Court reflects the patriarchal and gendered attitudes and stereotypes of its members that place blame on the victims. Sexual abuse/ exploitation of children, rape and sexual violence are among the most serious human rights violations and as active citizens we demand that penalties reflect the gravity of the crime.