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Aliki Hadjigeorgiou is the President of the Association for Prevention & Handling of Violence in the Family in Cyprus, and has been involved with this organisation for the last 20 years. Throughout this time, she has been relentless in her pursuit to help victims of domestic violence, via a variety of ways.
Aliki has succeeded in breaking the barriers that divide stereotypical beliefs about men and women across Cyprus, together with other organisations that have shared her passion for the fight against gender violence. One of her most recent and prominent efforts to diffuse the gender stereotype and break the barriers, was that she felt strongly about the view that both men, and women, can become perpetrators of violence. Therefore, in order to break this stereotype she vowed to not only provide help for victims of domestic violence, but for perpetrators as well.
Her lobbying efforts have managed to implement clauses in the law about domestic violence in the family law in 1994 and provisions of therapeutic programs in addition to imprisonment and fines in 2004. She was a member of the International Steering Committee on Violence and currently appointed by the House of Representative as a representative of the National Commission for the Family. Furthermore, her tenacity to pursue a long-term project seems soon to be realised, as the Association hopes to host a new shelter, which will be able to accommodate victims of Domestic Violence.
Aliki notes that her Association’s Crisis Center last year, in 2011, recorded that 811 cases of domestic violence were reported of which 621 (76.6%) were cases against women, 62 (7.6%) against men and, 128 (15.8%) refer to violence against children. Broken down in to categories, it is clear that Psychological abuse is the most common form of domestic violence, with 749 incidents reported, which is 92.3% of the cases; whilst there were 46 (5.7%) cases of sexual abuse.
The Association for Prevention & Handling of Violence in the Family has organised special seminars to help teachers become more aware of how to recognise and then to deal with situations where it becomes apparent that children are in an abusive domestic environment. Aliki maintains that there are a large number of abused children in family settings, who have no way of reporting their claims, and this form of intervention is one way to provide much needed support.
In more than half the countries in the world rape within marriage goes unpunished and in approximately one third of these cases, women are denied the right to abortion. These startling figures have been released in September 2011, by the new institution of the United Nations, UN Women, in its first report, titled: The progress of women in the world.
According to the report, 127 countries do not punish rape within marriage, 61 countries denied women the right to abortion, while there was a difference of 10% to 30% in salaries of women compared to the wages of men. The UN Women is a new UN body set up on 1 January 2011, bringing together the activities of smaller bodies of the international organization for women's rights in the world, which already exist. President of this new body is the former Chilean president, Michelle Bachelet. "Despite the great advances in terms of laws, millions of women face violence in their lives from the perspective of their partners', highlights the first annual report.
The new UN body further confirmed that "approximately 600 million women, ie more than half of workers worldwide are employed in less secure jobs, often outside of any law. The non-disclosure of crimes against women is a serious problem in many countries around the world." In 57 countries, studies on crime show that at least 10% of women have been victims of sexual abuse, but only 11% of the public. The report also notes that sexual violence has been used for centuries as a weapon of war. Finally, the report also notes that whilst 173 countries provide maternity, 139 have a constitution that guarantees equality, and 125 characterize illegal violence against women within marriage by their husbands.
Read about the EU indicators on Violence against women