Statement on murders of migrant women in Cyprus

Even though investigations are still ongoing in the case of Cypriot serial killer Nicos Metaxas, Cypriot society is being called upon to implement real solutions to the systemic problems underlying this case. Beyond the tears and mourning in memory of the killer’s innocent victims, the only way that at least some justice can be found for these women is by actively seeking change in our society to provide justice for all vulnerable groups.

Women with a migration background are one of these particularly vulnerable groups in Cyprus whose rights are systematically violated. In the past, we have accompanied a number of refugee women who wanted to report violence and crimes against them to the authorities. Whilst the police officers at the stations were professional and tried to report the incidents in detail, the victims would later contact us to support them because no action was ever taken by the authorities regarding their cases. Not only does this mean perpetrators walk free, but these women feel they cannot rely on the government for protection. Due to this lack of trust in the judiciary system, only a small percentage even bother to file a complaint. For a country that has the biggest number of police officers per 100.000 residents in the EU, this is an unacceptable reality.

However, the problem goes much deeper than only at the police level. According to Project Phoenix Mentor Sophia Papastavrou Faustmann and the Gender Advisory Team (GAT), “these killings are an integral part of a gendered violence that develops within a society structured on patriarchal, racist, militarist, and nationalist bases. […] The state and civil society must provide security to vulnerable groups such as immigrant domestic workers. The failure of a democratic European state to investigate and prevent these crimes is a failure of our own society to protect women from structural violence, oppression and exploitation”. Click here for their full statement.

At Project Phoenix we believe that the importance of feeling safe and having access to justice is a prerequisite to successful integration. We call on the government to investigate the complaints against the police and to take steps towards guaranteeing equal rights for all residents in Cyprus.