Cypriot spiritual leaders take stand against violence towards women
In honor of International Women’s Day, Cyrpus’ religious leaders came together yesterday at the Ledra Palace Hotel in the UN-controlled buffer zone to make a joint statement pledging to work together and with authorities to help end violence against women on the island. According to a recent domestic violence survey, 22% of Cypriot women fifteen years of age or older have suffered physical and/or sexual violence, while 39% have been subjected to psychological violence.
The heads of the island nation’s Mulsim, Orthodox, Latin Catholic, Armenian, and Maronite communities came together, stating that men and women are equal in the eyes of God, reports the Associated Press. They expressed concern that violence is “one of the most pervasive manifestations of discrimination” against Cypriot women.
The leaders stated that it is their duty to stand against such violence, claiming both Christianity and Islam condemn such violence. While Muslim views on and discrimination against women cast doubt on the notion that such violence is merely a “misuse of religion” as the leaders stated, it is nevertheless encouraging to see Muslim leaders speaking out against it. “It is our responsibility not only to condemn violence in statements, but to ensure that we live by what we’ve signed here today,” said Armenian Orthodox Archbishop Khoren Toghramadjian. Archbishop Chrysostomos, head of Cyprus’s Greek Orthodox Church, said it’s imperative for everyone to support women because they are “the most perfect image of God.”
Cypriot Muslim leader Mufti Talip Atalay expressed hope that a marked improvement would be seen by the next such meeting. “Religious leaders taking a stand makes a difference,” said Elizabeth Spehar, the U.N. Secretary General’s Special Representative to Cyprus.