A GROUP of women from the Philippines living in Cyprus has offered to translate Owaat’s self-help website on filing for emergency civil protections into Filipino to assist any of their compatriots facing abuse to seek help.
Owaat is the world’s first international self-help website for abused women to learn their human rights and file applications for emergency civil protection orders. The Owaat website is currently available in Greek, English, Russian, Arabic, Yoruba and Italian. The Filipino version is expected to be launched within the year with Spanish and Dutch versions by 2020.
Cyprus domestic worker Lissa Jataas, a Filipina and founder of the female migrant domestic workers’ association Obreras Empowered Female Domestic Workers in Nicosia volunteered herself with three Obreras members to translate the One Woman At a Time (Owaat ) website into Filipino.
Jataas said Obreras wanted to help Owaat guide the first Filipino abused domestic worker woman in Cyprus to claim her right for a court issued and enforced emergency civil protection order under the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, also known as the Istanbul Convention (IC). In Cyprus, it was put into force of law last March.
“Under IC, foreign-speaking abused women in Cyprus are entitled to state-provided assistance including special court protections as vulnerable persons and a Greek interpreter available to assist if and when such abused women seek civil or criminal protections,” said Patricia Martin, US attorney at Law and Owaat founder.
Jataas is one of the 80 per cent of all domestic workers in Cyprus who entered as Filipina immigrants.
“Filipino women in Cyprus,” said Jataas, “are experienced and employed in Cyprus as domestic workers.”
She said that under international agreements, their immigration applications process initially through international agencies approved by and between the Philippines and Cyprus labour departments allows them to enter Cyprus under a temporary visa later transferred from Cyprus Immigration Office to a visa processed under the Civil Registry and Migration Department in Cyprus.
“Once Filipino women are in Cyprus, our passports are legally kept by our employer so when a female domestic worker is sexually abused or verbally abused by her employer usually, she has nowhere else to go. She can’t travel off the island, or get other work quickly in Cyprus,” Jataas said.
She added that employers usually threaten to have these women deported if they complain about the abuse, while they are also being turned down by some private organisations that assist victims of violence in the family on the justification that they are domestic workers and not members of the family.
“So, most Filipino abused domestic worker women in Cyprus believe they cannot get into court for help because no Greek interpreter will speak for them and most can’t afford to hire a Cyprus attorney,” Jataas said.
During the 15 years Jataas has been a domestic worker in Cyprus, she said she has witnessed many cases where Filipinas are abused by their employers, but were “mocked by police while seeking to file for a police report and treated poorly by state social services persons while filing for state aid” after fleeing an employer’s home for being abused.
According to Patricia Martin, exploitation of tens of millions of domestic workers is also a global sex-trafficking crime in disguise. “In Cyprus IC is the law with other European courts on human rights case law on the Convention of Human Rights applicable in Cyprus which entitle any abused women ‘as vulnerable persons’ with special legal protections afforded to them by courts. Filipino abused domestic workers women are no exception,” Martin said. “They reside and work in Cyprus legally which entitles them to claim Cyprus legal protections to prevent the risk of harm, injury by abuse under IC.”
More information may be found at: www.owaat-cy.com