EPP MEP Eleni Stavrou spoke about the systematic exploitation of women in the Turkish-occupied areas of Cyprus, during her intervention in a debate at the Plenary of the European Parliament, on Wednesday evening in Strasbourg. The debate discussed a report by MEP Maria Noichl, from the Group of Socialists and Democrats, on the regulation of prostitution in the EU, its cross-border effects and its impact on gender equality and women’s rights.

Initially, Stavrou referred to the amendments she tabled regarding the Turkish-occupied area of Cyprus, which – as she said – “is used by traffickers for the systematic exploitation of vulnerable women and young girls, with the promise of a better life”. The EPP and Democratic Rally MEP noted that these women are “forced into prostitution and inhumane living conditions.”

Afterwards, Eleni Stavrou underlined that “the report recognises the way in which the Turkish-occupied territories of Cyprus are used as a place of impunity, with the tolerance of the occupying authorities and the Erdogan government.”

It is noted that the report – among other things – refers to prostitution in the occupied territories of Cyprus, emphasises the need to address the issue and calls on the European Commission to act immediately in this direction.

Furthermore, the report states that it “underlines the Member States’ legal obligation to protect women’s rights and physical integrity and promote gender equality and diversity.’’ It also “highlights the EU’s role in doing this within the international community and in guaranteeing equal protection and safeguarding equal rights across the Member States.” Finally, the report “calls on all the Member States which have not yet done so to ratify the Istanbul Convention as soon as possible.”

Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded and occupied its northern third. Repeated rounds of UN-led peace talks have so far failed to yield results. The last round of negotiations, in the summer of 2017, at the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana ended inconclusively.

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