Rape and Domestic Violence: The law criminalizes rape, including spousal rape, with a maximum sentence of life in prison for violations. The government enforced the law effectively.
There were reports of violence against women, including spousal abuse, and the number of cases reportedly increased in recent years. The law establishes clear mechanisms for reporting and prosecuting family violence and provides for the imprisonment of persons found guilty of abusing family members. A court can issue a same-day restraining order against suspected or convicted domestic-violence offenders.
Survivors of domestic violence had two shelters, each funded primarily by the government.
Police conducted detailed educational programs for officers on the proper handling of domestic violence, including training focused on child abuse. NGOs noted, however, that police dismissed claims of domestic abuse by foreign women and children.
Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C): While the practice was not a problem locally, the government received and granted asylum applications from migrant women subjected to FGM/C.
Sexual Harassment: The law prohibits sexual harassment in the workplace and provides a penalty of up to six months in prison and/or a 12,000 euro ($14,440) fine. The ombudsman and NGOs reported that authorities did not investigate sexual harassment complaints submitted by foreign domestic workers.
Sexual harassment was reportedly a widespread problem.The office of the ombudsman provided training to police, social workers, health care providers, teachers, prosecutors, labor and immigration service personnel, and journalists.
Coercion in Population Control: There were no reports of coerced abortion, involuntary sterilization, or other coercive population control methods. Estimates on maternal mortality and contraceptive prevalence are available at: www.who.int/reproductivehealth/publications/monitoring/maternal-mortality-2015/en/ .
Discrimination: The law provides for the same legal status and rights for women as for men. The law requires equal pay for equal work or work of equal value. The government generally enforced these laws. Women experienced discrimination in such areas as hiring, career advancement, conditions of employment, and pay.
Birth Registration: Children derive citizenship from their parents, and there was universal registration at the time of birth.
Child Abuse: From January to October 15, police investigated 134 cases of child abuse, 47 of which were filed in court.
Early and Forced Marriage: The legal age of marriage is 18, but persons between the ages of 16 and 18 may marry, provided there are serious reasons justifying the marriage and their legal guardians provide written consent. A district court can also allow the marriage of persons between the ages of 16 and 18 if the parents unjustifiably refuse consent or in the absence of legal guardians.
Sexual Exploitation of Children: The law prohibits commercial sexual exploitation of children, child pornography, offering or procuring a child for prostitution, and engaging in or promoting a child in any form of sexual activity. The penalty for violations is up to life in prison. Authorities enforced these laws. Possession of child pornography is a criminal offense punishable by a maximum of 10 years’ imprisonment. Authorities enforced these laws. The minimum age for consensual sex is 17. The penalty for sexual abuse and exploitation of a child between the ages of 13 and 17 is a maximum of 25 years’ imprisonment. The penalty for sexual abuse and exploitation of a child under 13 is up to life in prison.
International Child Abductions: The country is a party to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. See the Department of State’s Annual Report on International Parental Child Abduction at travel.state.gov/content/childabduction/en/legal/compliance.html.
There were approximately 3,000 persons in the Jewish community, which consisted of a very small number of native Jewish Cypriots and a greater number of expatriate Israeli, British, and other Jews.
There were reports of verbal harassment of members of the Jewish community along with incidents of property damage.
Holocaust-era restitution is no longer a significant issue in the Republic of Cyprus. Since 2009 the country has included International Holocaust Remembrance Day among important historical events observed in public secondary schools and regularly organizes teacher and student participation in Holocaust-related lectures, cultural events, and projects. This year the Honorary President of the Greek-Jewish Association of Holocaust Survivors gave lectures to secondary education teachers and students at the Ministry of Education (MOE) in cooperation with the Embassy of Israel. Teachers and MOE officials also participated in an educational visit to Yad Vashem, Israel’s official memorial to victims of the Holocaust in Jerusalem.
Trafficking in Persons
See the Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Report at www.state.gov/j/tip/rls/tiprpt/.
Persons with Disabilities
The law prohibits discrimination against persons with physical, sensory, intellectual, and mental disabilities in employment, education, air travel and other transportation, access to health care, the judicial system, or in the provision of other state services. The law provides persons with disabilities the right to participate effectively and fully in political and public life, including by exercising their right to vote and to stand for election. The government generally enforced these provisions.
Problems facing persons with disabilities included access to natural and constructed environments, transportation, information, and communications.
The state provided facilities to enable children with disabilities to attend all levels of education. The MOE has adopted a code of good practices, prepared in collaboration with the ombudsman, regarding attendance of students with disabilities in special units of public schools. Authorities provided a personal assistant for students with disabilities attending public schools but not private ones.
In a March 13 report assessing the 2016 deinstitutionalization program for persons with mental disabilities, the ombudsman noted that authorities failed to handle effectively matters related to the rights, needs, and abilities of these persons, and did not meet the main objective, which was the enjoyment of the right of independent living within society.
The Cyprus Paraplegics Organization reported that several public buildings were still not accessible to wheelchair users
The Ministry of Labor and Social Insurance’s Service for the Care and Rehabilitation of the Disabled is responsible for protecting the rights of persons with disabilities. Observers did not consider fines for violating the law against employment discrimination sufficient to deter employers from discriminating against persons with disabilities (see also section 7.d.).
Minority groups in the government-controlled area of Cyprus included Latins, Maronites, Armenians, and Roma. Although legally considered one of the two main communities of Cyprus, Turkish Cypriots constituted a relatively small proportion of the population in the government-controlled areas and experienced discrimination.
There were incidents of violence against Turkish Cypriots as well as some incidents of verbal abuse or discrimination against non-Greek Cypriots. On April 14, a married Turkish Cypriot couple driving a car with Turkish Cypriot license plates were forced off the road by a taxi and another vehicle bearing Republic of Cyprus Cypriot plates. The Greek Cypriot drivers of the two vehicles beat the husband and caused damage to the couple’s car. The victims reported the attack to police. A police investigation is ongoing.
The MOE applied a code of conduct against racism in schools that provided schools and teachers with a detailed plan on handling, preventing, and reporting racist incidents.
On May 12, CERD reported that the Romani community continued to face discrimination and stigmatization as well as challenges such as low school attendance and high dropout rates of Romani children, difficulty accessing adequate housing, unemployment, and racist attacks. The 2014 EU Roma Health Report (PDF 2 MB) also noted that the Romani population faced difficulty obtaining housing, education, and employment.
In 2015 the Council of Europe’s Advisory Committee on the Framework Convention for the Protection of Minorities noted incidents of racial prejudice against Romani and migrant children in schools and of Greek Cypriot parents removing their children from certain schools where there were a large number of non-Greek Cypriot students.
The ombudsman continued to receive complaints that the government delayed approval of citizenship to children of Turkish Cypriots married to Turkish citizens who resided in the area administered by Turkish Cypriots
Acts of Violence, Discrimination, and Other Abuses Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity
Antidiscrimination laws exist and prohibit direct or indirect discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Antidiscrimination laws cover employment and the following activities in the public and private domain: social protection, social insurance, social benefits, health care, education, participation in unions and professional organizations, and access to goods and services. An LGBTI NGO noted in February that equality and antidiscrimination legislation remained fragmented and failed to adequately address discrimination against LGBTI persons. NGOs dealing with LGBTI matters claimed that housing benefits favored “traditional” families. Hate crime laws criminalize incitement to hatred or violence based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
Despite legal protections, LGBTI individuals faced significant societal discrimination. As a result, many LGBTI persons were not open about their sexual orientation or gender identity, nor did they report homophobic violence or discrimination. There were reports of employment discrimination against LGBTI applicants (see section 7.d.).
HIV and AIDS Social Stigma
The president of the HIV-Positive Persons Support Center stated that HIV-positive persons faced prejudice from society and their own families, largely due to lack of public awareness. She also claimed that raising public awareness of this problem was low in the government’s priorities.