The exposition of rape in Cyprus: From the crime scene to the court room

Published date01 July 2023
AuthorAngelo Constantinou
Date01 July 2023
Subject MatterArticles
The exposition of rape in Cyprus:
From the crime scene to the court
Angelo Constantinou
Open University of Cyprus, Latsia, Cyprus
This paper constitutes the f‌irst attempt to explore the act of rape in Cyprus. It delineates the
nexus between victims of rape and offenders, as well as the circumstances in which the two
converge. Also, it explores the legal backdrop against which rape court cases are dealt with
by the local judiciary. For achieving this, 58 court cases (spanning from 2000 to 2020) are ana-
lysed. Findings underpin that female rapes in Cyprus do not markedly diverge from rapes
occurring in offshore milieus. Also, although domestic statutory law on rape has long set
aside the element of force, case law still carries remnants of judicial bias to that end.
Anglo-American, common law, EU, incidence, rape
According to the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, based on a sample survey of 42,000
women in 28 member states of the European Union (EU), around 8% of women have experienced phys-
ical and/or sexual violence in 2012 and one in three women has experienced some form of physical and/or
sexual assault since the age of 15. Also, 1 in 10 women has experienced some form of sexual violence
since the age of 15, and one in 20 women has been raped since the age of 15 (FRA, 2014).
On a similar note, the commission of the offence of rape in Cyprus exhibits (from 2010 to 2021) a
range of 14 to 38 (reported to the police) incidents annually with an average value of 23.6 and, although
it is one of the most serious offences in the Cypriot penal code, it has never undergone substantial crim-
inological and legal analysis. According to Eurostat (2022), in the year 2018,
Cyprus held the sixth
lowest position among EU member states, in relation to the incidence of rape. Specif‌ically, Cyprus
Corresponding author:
Angelo Constantinou, Open University of Cyprus, Latsia, Cyprus.
1. 2018 is the last year that includes statistics for England/Wales.
The International Journal of
Evidence & Proof
2023, Vol. 27(3) 169191
© The Author(s) 2023
Article reuse guidelines:
DOI: 10.1177/13657127231179284
recorded 3.24 rapes per 100,000 inhabitants, as opposed to Greece (1.46), which ranked the lowest, and
England/Wales (99.48), which was positioned at the highest rank. However, it is worth pointi ng out that
crime reporting (as will be explained at various points in the text) is a confounding procedure, therefore it
cannot be taken at face value. Also, in the case of small states (i.e., Cyprus, Malta, Luxembourg), where
the incidence of rape is relatively low, even a small variation can lead to a substantial change in relation to
its aggregate (inter-state) classif‌ication (i.e., Eurostat).
There is little doubt that gendered sexual violence is a social conundrum that haunts societies
worldwide and that concerted socio-political (i.e., #Me Too Movement) and legal attempts have
been incrementally addressing the issue for both preventing/reducing its incidence and alleviating
victims from its repercussions (sometimes forgetting the fact that male rape is not any less of a
serious issue). The latest European-bound development to this effect is the proposal for a
Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on combating violence against women
and domestic violence,
which, inter alia, intends to solidify the sanctions for crimes against
women, elevating the support and protection of female victims and, overall, increasing the preven-
tion of gender-based violence.
Yet, whether or not legislative reforms (aside their expansionistic nature enhanced by political
feminist-bound landscapes) do effectively tackle gender-based violence, especially sexual violence,
remains ambivalent (Dowds and Agnew, 2022). Nonetheless, such reforms have somewhat managed
to shift the locus of regulation upon the individual/consensual aspect of the matter (Frank et al.,
2009), to remove the onus of proof from victims (Sandoval, 2019), and to bring the offenders blame-
worthiness centre-stage (Cavallaro, 2019; Rumney and McPhee, 2021).
Indeed, rape legislative reforms are reported to have improved certain functions of the law, such as
augmenting rape reporting rates (Clay-Warner and Burt, 2005), and amending police traditional
approaches (Holleran et al., 2010); albeit claims to the contrary do not cease to exist (Campbell and
Fehler-Cabral, 2022; Jordan, 2001). Still, the question of rape prevalence, frequency and tendency is,
as ever, contingent to the f‌low and accuracy of data concerning female sexual violence.
Truly, there are many shortcomings to collecting representative data on sexual violencesuch as rape
incidence (Eigenberg, 1990; Krebs et al., 2022; Yung, 2013)and establishing an accurate picture on the
matter (Mannell et al., 2022). Indeed, estimating rape incidence is a hard to manage task as more than a
few parameters are reported to inf‌luence such estimations; inter alia, the narrowness/broadness of legis-
lative def‌initions, cultural reception of victimhood (i.e., widespread acceptance of rape myths), police
eff‌iciency, public assistance to victims, victim attrition, etc. Having said that, one can only go about
describing the shape, colour and form rapes often assume, by estimates drawn from off‌icially reported
data (police records/victimisation surveys), empirical studies (surveys, interviews, observations, etc.)
and analysis of secondary data such as documents, reports, court cases and the like. This study
follows the latter approach; that is, the analysis of court cases.
Having said that, female rape is widely referred to as being the outcome of women refusing to submit
to a sexual act (Miller and Kanazawa, 2007), demarcated by traditional sexual scripts (Byers, 1996);
however, and speaking in legal terms, while it may be somewhat easier to prove the occurrence or not
of a sexual act, the component of refusallack of, compelled or forced consentis often more diff‌icult
to establish in practice (RvOlugboja [1982] QB 320). Keeping this in mind, this article uses the def‌in-
ition of rape as postulated by the domestic legislation (applied by courts in Cyprus) at the time of the
That is, Article 144 of the Criminal Code (Cap.154):
2. Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on combating violence against women and domestic
violence, COM/2022/105 f‌inal.
3. At a later point in the text it is detailed how domestic rape law has been amended in 2020 and now includes male rape as well;
however, the trials of the studied court cases were based on the old law.
170 The International Journal of Evidence & Proof 27(3)

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