The Cyprus rape case is a travesty and we need to be outraged by it
This is a national tragedy
A nineteen year old girl has been convicted of lying about being gang raped in Cyprus. She was interrogated for hours by police without an attorney present. Since the sentencing, she has alleged that she was gang raped, that she is not lying, and that the Cypriot police coerced her into saying that she was lying.
The case has been making headlines for the past few weeks, but the coverage has been troublingly biased. Protests have been taking place in London, with human rights groups fighting for the charges to be dropped, and to boycott Cyprus, a country whose income is dependent on tourism, as a protest to this abhorrent verdict. The girl has been given a suspended sentence, and is being allowed to come home, but while this may sound like a good thing, the fight is far from over.
This case is a traumatising and upsetting example of how rape cases are mishandled, how victims are treated abhorrently, and how women are not valued when they report sexual assault.
Here's why it is critical we all pay attention to this case and fight against women being treated like this.
This woman leaves #AyiaNapa with a conviction for making false rape claim – a miscarriage of justice that the foreign office cannot ignore. It must support her appeal to overturn the ruling and the appalling comments made by the judge #WeBelieveHer https://t.co/3JpDjBoYd9
— WomensEqualityUK (@WEP_UK) January 7, 2020
Why was she questioned without an attorney present?
I cannot even begin to imagine how traumatic it would be to be interrogated for hours without an attorney present. The woman in question is only nineteen – think about how young that is. Nineteen is an age where you are just starting to get to grips with the world and who you are. No one is equipped to go through this kind of interrogation completely alone, let alone a teenager.
In the coverage of the case, there has been no explanation as to why she was interrogated in this manner. Survivors need to be treated with care and respect. Whatever you think of this case, this is an abhorrent and inhumane way for an issue of this nature to be handled. It is criminally unjust.
Why is this something we need to be worried about?
It may be 2020, but sexual violence against women is not taken seriously. Women are institutionally shamed, rape cases are rarely prosecuted, and accusers face equal if not more vicious scrutiny than the accused.
From Me Too to Brock Turner, and the 'Rugby rape trial', discussions about rape and sexual assault have dominated the media for the past few years, but just because these things are being spoken about more, doesn't mean that things are getting better for survivors.
This case is one of many heart shattering examples of the fact that the world is not a safe place for women. From your university campus, to a foreign country, to the media in your home town, if you say that you were raped people are going to tell you that you are lying. This is a tragedy of monumental proportions and it's something we need to be outraged about and retaliating against.
The mainstream media's coverage of the case is a national embarrassment
One of the most terrifying things about this case is how it has been handled by the UK media. The circumstances around this brutal investigation have been included in the overall coverage, but what is concerning is how these pieces have been headlined. "Ayia Napa Briton sentenced over false rape claim", for example, does not mention the fact that this young girl has maintained that she was not lying.
Covering the case in this way is an absolute outrage. The fact that the headline that pops up doesn't even begin to tell the full story is not okay. As a generation, we flit past headlines, our eyes glancing from one tragedy to the next, and the way that the case is being covered in mainstream media places the plight of this young girl as a footnote. This isn't okay.
She has been freed, but the fight isn't over
In the year 2018-2019, 1.5% of all 886 rape cases reported to the police lead to charge or summons – that's one in 65. What kind of message is this sending to young women today? The message is that they don't matter – that they shouldn't tell anyone if they are ever raped and that a man's voice takes priority.
The situation is getting worse, not better and it is our duty to stand up against this, to fight against this. We owe it to the survivors among us and we need the system to change.