Cypriot arrested for abusing Nepali housemaid

A 59-year-old Cypriot man was arrested Wednesday after allegedly indecently assaulting his housemaid from Nepal and then attacking her with a corrosive substance, police said.

He is expected to appear before a Paphos district court, on the island's southwest coast, for a remand order on Thursday, police said.

The man, who was not named, faces possible charges of causing grievous bodily harm, indecent assault and using threatening behaviour.

The 40-year-old woman told police her employer had been systematically abusing her since she arrived on the island in March and that the latest attack occurred in the garden of the residence last month.

Local media reported that she had refused sexual advances from her boss, who then threw an unknown corrosive substance at her arm and legs causing burns.

The woman told police she had not reported the incidents before because her employer had threatened her if she did so.

State pathologist Sophocles Sophocleous said the woman's injuries appear consistent with her claims of assault.

Thousands of foreign women, from the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Nepal and other countries, are employed as domestic workers in Cyprus, as housemaids, nannies or caring for the elderly.

They are not given the ability to organise collectively, strike or demand better conditions, and risk deportation if they report a dispute or sexual harassment.

"The issue of sexual harassment is one of the 'darkest' offences because they are difficult to report and it is even more difficult to prove," Ombudswoman Eliza Savvidou was quoted by the Cyprus Mail as telling a conference in September.