(From Cyprus Mail, Letter to the Editor)
There are many holes in the law protecting children
I write in response to your recent article ‘Support needed to protect children’ (Cyprus Mail, April 19). Attorney-General Petros Clerides said: “I do not believe that anyone has avoided conviction for sexual abuse of a minor due to a weakness in the law.”
In 2004 a man was arrested on three charges relating to his own child:
1. Sexual abuse of a minor
2. Indecent assault of a female, and
3. Domestic violence
Among the fifteen police witnesses listed were three medical doctors and a psychologist. The criminal trial was continually adjourned/delayed for three years resulting in January 2008, Petros Clerides authorising withdrawal of the case. This left the accused without trial, avoiding conviction. A ‘weakness in the law’, perhaps?
A delay of 18 months – an eternity to a four-year-old child – passed before the child was videoed by an inspector from the Department of Domestic Violence in Nicosia. A weakness in the law?
Commissioner for Protection of Child Rights Leda Koursoumba says: “The Education Ministry could incorporate programmes to build awareness on these issues as well as broader sex education matters.”
The child has been forced to leave the Greek primary school she attended. The school’s headmaster had the situation explained to him, with documentation regarding parental access and the intricacies of the case. He replied, “I have many cases like this”.
The headmaster condoned visits from the accused father to school regularly and permitted him to sit in the playground to see his child against her will – despite having full awareness with documentation in writing, the police charge sheet and access document.
He defied a judge’s access order and the child persistently telling her teacher she didn't want to see her father. This caused severe anxiety and psychological distress and manifested in the young girl refusing to attend school, having uncontrollable destructive rages, and finally resulting in stress incontinence.
Medical professionals have advised specialist treatment from the government hospital. Last week, Social Services said the law states they require the father’s permission for treatment and he has obviously refused. Is this a weakness in the law?
The Commissioner called for “giving psychological treatment to those who commit sexual and other violence against children to ensure they can be reintegrated into society”.
This child, now 10, desperately needs victim support and psychological treatment to become stable and have the opportunity of growing up and integrating in society, Mrs Koursoumba.
Petros Clerides opinion: "Personally, I do not think that the law as it stands is in bad shape.”
note: such a good written letter, the only thing missing is what party the father belongs to...