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Coming to terms with rape during 1974

By Janice Ruffle

One of my reporting assignments, when I arrived in Cyprus 15 years ago, was the 1974 invasion. I themed my article ‘Heritage Rape’. Now, 15 years on, I find myself reporting on the real ’74 crisis – that of ‘Human Rape’. Women raped twice in one war. Stripped of their heritage and dignity, left with incurable scars.

I cannot think of any punishment too great for a rapist – castration comes close, bathed in acid a close second. Rapists are life destroyers – scum.

Both acts are incomprehensible life-time crimes that should have life-time punishment.

Thankfully, I have not been raped. My opinion – no psychological, medical or financial assistance for rape victims, would ease the shattering post-trauma effect.

In years past, rape was seen as the expression of an overwhelming sexual urge, one that women might appear to invite by provocative dress or behaviour.

The notion that if you know the woman (or man), “it’s not rape” is hideous. The act of rape (in all cases) is a violation of privacy, an exertion of power and control over victims.

Double invasion

It’s common knowledge that rape is a heinous crime used during wars, which terrifies the victim and whose scars live forever.

One of the darkest and most agonisingly painful aspects of the ‘74 invasion, which has for decades been hidden under the carpet, has recently been brought to the limelight: the rape of Greek Cypriot women by Turkish soldiers.
The state, for the first time since 74, has come out into the open and recognised, albeit belatedly, the drama of Greek Cypriot women who were violated during the invasion.

Promises have been made that acts of discretion and sensitivity will be made in an attempt to heal the wounds of such a crime through consultation and financial aid.

The rape victims have said that apart from fighting back the memories of their terrible experience, they live with the “shame” families and society at large have bestowed on them.

Adolescents, most of them at the time, remember how their families had tried to obliterate the stigma their rapes brought to them. Many were sent abroad, others were hurriedly married to “wash off the shame”.

Minister of Labour and Welfare Zeta Emilianidou, in statements, has explained that a special committee will examine testimonies from women without actually forcing them to be present and relive their experience.

Let’s hope this resolution attempt will be the beginning of an inevitably long journey of recovery. Let’s hope, too, it will be more enduring than the invasion resolve itself.

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