Indicator history

Close Window

Is there evidence that migrant or minority women are particularly vulnerable in accessing and receiving effective health care services?

Key Area:
Health And Social Protection
17/02/2012 - 12:06
Short Answer


Qualitative Info

There is no systematic data on women’s access to healthcare, but evidence suggests that female migrants are in a more vulnerable position than male migrants. A 2008 report entitled Migrant Female Domestic Workers in Cyprus: An assessment of their sexual and reproductive health (released on 11.04.2008 by the Technological University of Cyprus -TEPAK) found that whilst 52.5% of the sample was sexually active, 85% did not use protection, some have had unwanted pregnancies ending in abortions, some have been sexually abused by their employers, 45% do not know if they have a health insurance and what it comprises of, and describe difficulties in accessing public services where they have experienced discrimination and humiliation by service providers where were not culturally sensitive.

In 2010 the equality body published a survey conducted in February 2010 using a sample of 1,702 migrant women through the method of personal interviews. The findings established that vast majority of interviewees did not know where to apply to seek assistance in case of sexual harassment, or physical abuse and that 14 per cent were sexually harassed, 12 per cent were physically abused by their employer, 6 per cent were sexually exploited and 4 per cent were raped by their employer.

In May 2010 several articles in the press described the incident of a female Philipino domestic worker mother who was forced to give up her newborn baby for adoption or face deportation, because her employer did not want to keep her after she had her baby. The woman had spent the last nine and a half years in Cyprus working legally as a domestic helper. As such she was entitled to apply for Cypriot citizenship or acquire the status of a long-term resident, rights that she was never informed of. After giving birth, her employer said she would end her employment if she kept the baby, leading immigration to arrest the woman on 10.05.2010 during a visit to the Limassol welfare services. On 14.05.2010 and against the wishes of the father, deportation orders were ready to be executed against mother and child, but postponed last minute following an intervention by a migrant support NGO. The NGO stated that the welfare services had failed the family by effectively leaving the parents with two options after giving birth: give the child up for adoption or leave the country. The NGO added that deportation is illegal because, since the couple do not want to give up the child for adoption and the mother is in detention, the father is the legal guardian; therefore the execution of the deportation order would mean that they will be sending the child out of the country without the guardian’s consent. The woman never told her long-term employer that she was pregnant in fear that she would lose her job. When the woman gave birth to a premature underweight baby, the doctor on duty explained to the parents that the baby would need weeks of medical care at Makarios, costing €400 a day and suggested that the couple put the baby up for adoption if they cannot afford to look after her (K. Toumbourou (2010) “Welfare: you’ll get your baby back if you agree to leave Cyprus” in the Cyprus Mail (14.05.2010); S. Evripidou (2010) “Family torn apart by welfare and immigration services” in the Cyprus Mail (22.05.2010),


Data N/a
Groups affected/interested Migrants
Type (R/D) Anti-migrant/xenophobia
Key socio-economic / Institutional Areas Health and social protection
External Url