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Human rights of migrant women workers in janitorial services and night clubs: A case of North Cyprus

Fatma Güven‐Lisaniler (Eastern Mediterranean University, North Cyprus)
Sevin Uğural (Eastern Mediterranean University, North Cyprus)
Leopoldo Rodríguez (Portland University, Portland, Oregon, USA)

International Journal of Social Economics

ISSN: 0306-8293

Article publication date: 9 May 2008




To discuss the gender dimension of migration and human rights, and to provide an assessment of how to improve human rights protections for migrant women workers in janitorial services and night clubs across registered and unregistered migrant women workers in North Cyprus.


A survey is done to establish the employment conditions of migrant women workers in both sectors. The conditions are evaluated to assess the compliance with North Cyprus labor and immigration legislation and international human rights protocols.


Registered and unregistered segment of the janitorial services and unregistered segment of sex industry are dominated by Turkish migrant women. The registered part of sex industry is dominated by Eastern European migrant women mostly due to the legislative framework within which these two activities operate, primarily with respect to immigration requirements and also as it pertains to the remunerative potential of activity. No evidences of human rights abuses of Turkish immigrants in either segment of the cleaning services sector are founded but lack of knowledge of their conditions in unregistered sex work. Eastern European migrants working in the registered segment of the sex industry suffer human rights and basic migrant rights abuses at the hands of the state and the employer.

Research limitations/implications

Lack of knowledge of Turkish migrant women workers' conditions in unregistered segment of sex work limits the findings of the research. A survey across unregistered Turkish sex workers is suggested for future research.

Practical implications

Legalization of commercial sex among registered konsomatrices would provide an opportunity for labor rights legislation to be fully applied to their primary income‐earning activities. Most of the human and immigrant rights violations are the result of legislation applied to nightclubs and work visas for konsomatrices. Improvements in the legislation and work visas for konsomatrices would guarantee the women to have access to assistance in case of human rights violations.


The paper provides practical suggestion for the improvement of human rights protections for migrant women workers in North Cyprus.



Güven‐Lisaniler, F., Uğural, S. and Rodríguez, L. (2008), "Human rights of migrant women workers in janitorial services and night clubs: A case of North Cyprus", International Journal of Social Economics, Vol. 35 No. 6, pp. 435-448.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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