Akel submitted a bill to the House calling for the criminalization of prostitution in Cyprus, with MP Skevi Koukouma calling prostitution the “oldest form of violence against women.”
Proposed legislation making paid sex crime in the Republic of Cyprus is drawing criticism, after the country’s left-wing said the female body is not for sale and cannot be purchased.
Koukouma said her party based the draft bill on the Nordic model, under which Scandinavian laws criminalize the purchase of sex under a broad ideological framework that sees all sex work as violence.
The bill suggests fines up to €3000 and one year in jail for any individual who has sexual intercourse with another individual in exchange for money, with people facing misdemeanour charges.
An attempt to have paid sex is also a misdemeanour that carries a €1000 fine, according to the submitted bill, while payment in the form of goods or services, or payment through a third party, are also all considered part of the definition of paid sex.
It is also specified in the proposed bill that any person who is convicted for the crime more than once could face up to five years in prison.
“Criminalizing the purchase of sexual services sends a powerful message especially to the younger generations. The female body is not a property. It is not for sale and it cannot be bought,” Koukouma wrote on Facebook.
KISA, a Cypriot NGO for human rights, said it was against any direct or indirect criminalization of individuals who work in the sex industry, warning that the issue was far more complicated and describing the bill as having a very narrow view on prostitution.
prostitution is not illegal in the Republic of Cyprus, while trafficking and pimping are offences punishable by law.
The sex industry is currently uncontrolled, meaning that sex workers and those who can otherwise legally make a living by prostituting themselves could end up in prison for up to two years on misdemeanour charges for violating laws that ban the organisation and running of houses.
If the Akel-sponsored bill is passed by the parliament, police officers could arrest any individual engaging or otherwise being involved in paid sex, including consensual sex.
Amnesty International has called on governments to do more to protect sex workers from violations and abuse, pointing out that law enforcement officials in many countries, including the Republic of Cyprus, focus on prohibiting consensual sex work through surveillance, harassment and raids.
“If a customer is bad you need to manage it yourself to the end. You only call the police if you think you are going to die. If you call the police, you lose everything,” an Amnesty statement said.