‘Time for acts to break inaction’: Greek PM introduces harsher punishments for sexual abuse

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Greece will toughen laws to combat sexual abuse and protect minors, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Thursday following a cascade of recent scandals in culture and sport.

“Greek society underwent a shock when it began to learn about its hidden facades,” Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis told lawmakers Thursday, Reuters reports.

The measures he outlined include stricter penalties for crimes against sexual freedom, changing the statute of limitations for cases of child abuse, creating a registry for professionals who work with children and a website where victims can submit allegations in real time.

The metoo.gov.gr will be a new portal where victims will be able to submit complaints via live chat and access information on sexual abuse.

“It is time for acts to break the inaction,” he said.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis addresses lawmakers during a parliamentary session on revelations of abuse in arts and sports, in Athens, Greece, February 25, 2021. REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis

A number of allegations have surfaced since January, when Olympic sailing champion Sofia Bekatorou testified in court that she had been sexually assaulted as a 21-year-old in 1998 by a sports official. No case was brought against the man, as the statute of limitations had passed.

But her account – and the outpouring of support it provoked – prompted dozens of actors, singers, athletes and students to come forward in what Greeks have compared to the #MeToo movement in the United States and elsewhere.

The former head of the National Theatre, Dimitris Lignadis, is facing child rape allegations after two men who say he raped them when they were minors filed lawsuits against him.

Lignadis, who is in custody, is expected to appear before a prosecutor later on Thursday for a plea hearing. He denies all allegations and his lawyer has called them a “crude fabrication.”

Sofia Bekatorou. Photo: AFP

His case has become a major political issue, with the leftwing opposition calling on Culture Minister Lina Mendoni to resign, accusing her of protecting Lignadis.

Mitsotakis said he backed Mendoni and accused opposition leader Alexis Tsipras of seeking to exploit the scandal for “populist” purposes.

“The liberating movement is becoming a field of vulgar populism and vague accusations aiming to harm political opponents, as if rapists are divided into right-wing and left-wing,” he said.

According to a November survey by Actionaid, 85% of female respondents said they have experienced sexual harassment at work.

Sourced By: Reuters

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