Last June, a migrant woman who came to Cyprus to be employed as a domestic worker was sexually and physically assaulted by her employer, resulting in her hospitalisation for several days. When KISA communicated with the local police station on behalf of the victim, the investigator’s comment was «but … you haven’t seen her employer, he can barely stand». After our intervention, the relevant department of the CID took on the case and it was subsequently found that the aforementioned was under investigation for other cases of potential sexual assault.
After the above development, the migrant woman’s “protection” passed to Social Welfare Services (SWS) that, from the beginning of July, housed her in a shelter specifically for victim protection operated by themselves. In August, the victim was subjected to a new assault and attempted rape, this time by a man who resided in the same building under the approval of Social Welfare Services.
The police were again informed by KISA about the attempt and immediately proceeded with the investigation of the incident and the arrest of the perpetrator, while the victim was transported for her own safety, and with the consent of SWS, to a different town. Here it must be mentioned that, despite relevant updates from the police, no welfare worker visited her to support her while she was at the CID.
From the very first day, we communicated with the SWS and requested that they support her and ensure her subsequent protection and exertion of her rights since, according to the law, these services are responsible for human trafficking and exploitation victims, but also victims of gender-based violence. Thus far, the SWS have not provided her with any legal, psychological or financial support as prescribed by law. Every time we communicate with them in an attempt to sensitise them to the needs of the victim, we are told that her case has been assigned to another officer (thus far we have counted 6 reassignments without a decision being made). Each time we informed them that this woman was in very bad condition, we received the same answer that “the case will be examined as soon as possible”.
This woman came to Cyprus to work because she has two underage children in her country of origin that depend exclusively on her. Having experienced the above incidents, the woman is in very bad condition, both psychologically and financially, and is forced to live off charitable donations since she has no employment or any other support from the state, either for herself or her family.
Once again, it has been demonstrated that migrant women who are victims of gendered violence, trafficking, and exploitation are revictimized by the authorities themselves. Thus, KISA urges the state and the competent state authorities, independent authorities and institutions for the protection of human rights and promotion of gender equality to stop shedding crocodile tears and making political statements about women’s rights but rather to ensure the exertion of their rights in practice through the effective implementation of their internal and international legal obligations.
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