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Migrants’ Sexual Violence in the Mediterranean Region: A Regional Analysis
Article

A Qualitative Study of Female Migrant Domestic Workers’ Experiences of and Responses to Work-Based Sexual Violence in Cyprus

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Department of Nursing, School of Health Sciences, Cyprus University of Technology, Limassol 3036, Cyprus
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Population Health Sciences, Bristol Medical School, University of Bristol, Bristol BS8 2PS, UK
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National Institute for Health Research Applied Research Collaboration West, University Hospitals Bristol and Weston Foundation Trust, Bristol BS1 2NT, UK
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Meditteranean Institute of Gender Studies, 46 Makedonitissas Avenue, Box 24005, Nicosia 1703, Cyprus
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Department of Social Work, School of Health Sciences, Hellenic Mediterranean University, 71004 Heraklion, Greece
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Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Joana Carvalho and David Rowland
Received: 14 May 2021 / Revised: 9 June 2021 / Accepted: 25 June 2021 / Published: 7 July 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sexual and Reproductive Health of Female Migrants)
Domestic workers face increased risk for sexual harassment and assault in the workplace but are often reluctant to disclose abuse or seek retribution. We report on a study looking at migrant domestic workers’ responses to sexual violence, reasons behind their responses, and factors enhancing or diminishing vulnerability to abuse. We carried out qualitative, in-depth, individual and group interviews with 15 female domestic workers from the Philippines and Sri Lanka working in the Republic of Cyprus. Descriptive thematic analysis was used to analyse data using QSR NVivo 10.0. Sexual violence against migrant domestic workers was reported to be rampant, particularly among women living with their employer. Perpetrators took advantage of women’s precarious legal, social, and economic circumstances to coerce women into a sexual relationship. All participants reported taking action to stop attacks despite the significant barriers they faced: racism and discrimination, social isolation, and hostile legal, labour, and immigration systems. Fear of losing their job, being deported, and facing racism and discrimination from the police were the biggest barriers to seeking retribution. Access to informational, e.g., legal, practical, and emotional support, facilitated positive outcomes following abuse, such as finding a new employer. Systemic racism, hostile labour and immigration systems, and lack of support increase risk of sexual violence and place barriers against accessing safe working spaces, protection, and justice. Women need to be informed of the risks involved in domestic work and empowered to identify abuse and access help and support when needed. View Full-Text
Keywords: migrant women; domestic work; sexual harassment; sexual violence; empowerment migrant women; domestic work; sexual harassment; sexual violence; empowerment
MDPI and ACS Style

Kouta, C.; Pithara, C.; Apostolidou, Z.; Zobnina, A.; Christodoulou, J.; Papadakaki, M.; Chliaoutakis, J. A Qualitative Study of Female Migrant Domestic Workers’ Experiences of and Responses to Work-Based Sexual Violence in Cyprus. Sexes 2021, 2, 315-330. https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/sexes2030025

AMA Style

Kouta C, Pithara C, Apostolidou Z, Zobnina A, Christodoulou J, Papadakaki M, Chliaoutakis J. A Qualitative Study of Female Migrant Domestic Workers’ Experiences of and Responses to Work-Based Sexual Violence in Cyprus. Sexes. 2021; 2(3):315-330. https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/sexes2030025

Chicago/Turabian Style

Kouta, Christiana, Christalla Pithara, Zoe Apostolidou, Anna Zobnina, Josie Christodoulou, Maria Papadakaki, and Joannes Chliaoutakis. 2021. "A Qualitative Study of Female Migrant Domestic Workers’ Experiences of and Responses to Work-Based Sexual Violence in Cyprus" Sexes 2, no. 3: 315-330. https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/sexes2030025

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