Greek Prostitutes Demand Legal Brothels
Dozens of Greek sex workers staged a demonstration yesterday outside of the Interior Ministry in Athens. The women, most of whom hid behind scarves and sunglasses, demanded that the government start licensing brothels, reports the Canadian Press.
Prostitution is legal in Greece but organized brothels are not. This is typical for much of Western Europe; the law is basically the same in France and Britain, and also in Bulgaria, Greece's neighbor to the north. Greek prostitutes must register with the local prefecture and must also carry medical cards, which they are required to update every two weeks.
Although indoor prostitution is considered safer and healthier, the current law leaves women either subject to arrest or forced to work on the streets. Additionally, prostitutes working illegally out of brothels lost their medical coverage.
"The situation is tragic, hypocritical and miserable," says Dimitra Kanellopoulou, president of SEPE, Greece's sex workers' association. Interior Minister Yannis Ragoussis met with members of the sex workers' union and agreed to discuss their concerns.
This is not the first time Greek sex workers have protested; in 2003 they went on strike after the government shut down brothels in advance of the 2004 Athens Olympics. In Turkey, which borders Greece, brothels are legal and actually run by the state. In both countries, however, reports suggest that the number of legal prostitutes is a small percentage of the total number of prostitutes in the country.