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Society

Cypriot Former EU Commissioner Blamed Greek Alleged Gang Rape Victim

NICOSIA – Former European Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou had to quickly apologize after a tweet that appeared to blame the alleged victim of a gang rape in Greece’s second-largest city Thessaloniki, setting off fury.

The woman who brought the charges, Georga Bika, 24, identified herself in an interview with a journalist and said three men sexually assaulted her at a New Year’s Eve party, with at least reportedly with ties to a wealthy Cypriot family.

“And how did the 24-year-old find herself in the hotel suite? One must know all the facts before jumping to conclusions,” Vassiliou tweeted, which set off a backlash against her, with 722 comments and 500 retweets, said The Financial Mirror.

“How do you say ‘victim blaming’ in the Cypriot dialect?” one user wrote, while others pointed out that she is the Vice-Chair of the University of Cyprus board, which took no action against her.

One of the retorts came from Greek Olympic sailing gold medalist Sofia Bekatorou who reported she had been sexually assaulted, launching Greece’s #MeToo movement. “It’s a shame if that’s your comment,” tweeted Bekatorou.

Dozens of athletes and women in both Cyprus and Greece were encouraged to come forward and report their abusers after Bekatorou spoke out, including Cypriot shooter Andri Eleftheriou, the report added.

It was unclear why Vassiliou thought going to a party was wrong and she was scalded for it online. “Maybe she was drunk, maybe not; it doesn’t matter when it comes to the actual act of rape,” replied a criminology professor at Thessalonica university. Bika said her drink was spiked to make her unconscious.

Trying to explain herself, if awkwardly, Vassiliou posted: “Of course, it doesn’t, but it would be prudent for young girls to be aware of the dangers lurking around.”

But that just prompted more outrage against her as she fumbled to explain what she meant and she had to apologize again, saying that she wasn’t excusing any alleged rapists.

She said women have to be cautious when accepting invitations to parties, adding more clarification what that meant either and if they shouldn’t go to any or how they would protect themselves against spiked drinks.

“I apologise if through my post I gave a false impression that I wanted to blame the victim. “On the contrary, as a mother, I worry about young girls who fall victims to and are seduced by crooks,” she then said.

Bika had said that she was at a club when the owner approached her and told her it was about to close because of COVID-19 regulations – two hours after the deadline – and that there would be a party in a hotel room.

She said she decided to stay at a room and that she was overcome in the elevator and then awoke to find men’s clothing in her room and that she had been assaulted.

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