About Escorts Greece and prostitution in Greece.
Greece has voted for change. The Syriza party – whose campaign line was “Hope Is on Its Way” – has emerged triumphant from the country’s general election.
The average Greek wage has fallen to just €600 (£450) a month and half of all young people are unemployed. So it’s not surprising that the people of Greece are voting for a party which seems to represent progress.
But there’s another side to Greece’s mass unemployment; one which has been little reported on.
According to the National Centre for Social Research (EKKE), the rate of prostitution in the country has soared by 150 per cent during the economic crisis, meaning that greek Escorts who would otherwise have sought other types of employment, are turning to sex work in order support themselves and their families.
There are currently an estimated 20,000 prostitutes in Greece (according to EKKE) of which fewer than 1,000 are legally registered.
Because although street prostitution is illegal in Greece, sex work is technically not. (Although it’s not considered a profession and workers don’t have any kind of protection from labour laws).
There are brothels (or ‘studios’) where women can register to work legally. Studio-based prostitution is considered safer and is regulated, with on-site security and regular sexual health screening.
The studios are traditionally run by older women, sometimes former prostitutes themselves. Each is granted a licence, issued by the state.
The Greek authorities decided to implement a law in 1999 which stipulates that all brothels must have such a permit. Women working as prostitutes must register and carry a medical card, which is updated every two weeks.
There’s a list of other stipulations that must be met before a woman is allowed to work in one of these studios. She must be over 18; have the right to live and work in Greece; be free from STI’s or other infectious illnesses; not suffer from mental illness or drug addiction; and not have been convicted of homicide, pimping, child porn, trafficking, robbery or blackmail.
Oh, and she must be unmarried, too.
The reason for this stipulation is difficult to fathom. But regardless of its intention, the law isn’t stopping married women from working as prostitutes. It’s simply preventing them from operating in regulated environments and forcing them on to the streets, something which is both illegal and dangerous.
And with the number of women sex workers in the country rising rapidly, so the situation of its streets is worsening.
Because many of the Greek women now turning to prostitution don’t bear even a passing resemblance to the drug-addled stereotype of the ‘hooker’.
They are mothers, married women and young professionals. Women from every walk of life are now just as likely to turn to prostitution as drug addicts.
Legal brothel owner, Soula Alevridou, spoke to the BBC as part of a documentary called Love in a Time of Crisis about dating and sex work in Greece.
She explained the harsh reality for married women who want to use prostitution as a means of supporting themselves, explaining that she must turn them away, or run the risk of losing her licence.
“Married women come here and they ask for work. They can’t even afford breakfast before they [the children] go to school.”
The BBC reported on a woman named Georgia, a doctor, who also works as an escort to support her family.
A fully qualified medical professional, she has a private clinic – but currently only treats three patients a week. The peak summer season (read: tourism) experienced in the sex industry there, means that she’s able to keep up with the rent payments on her family home – as well as support her elderly parents.
“I live a double life and only I can know about it,” says Georgia. “I have applied for jobs in medicine abroad and wait every day in hope of a reply.”
But this line of work isn’t just demoralising. It’s dangerous.
Over the past four years, Greece has seen a 200 per cent rise in cases of HIV.
In 2012, in response to the increase in infection, the Greek authorities started releasing photographs of sex workers who had HIV and had been working as prostitutes.
Not only did this compromise their safety, it made other women considerably less likely to get tested, in case they were subjected to similar public shaming. This HIV ‘witch hunt’ further stigmatised having an HIV positive status as well as doing nothing to stem the spread of the disease.
Another reason given for the rise in HIV, is the sheer number of sex workers on Greece’s streets.
The 150 per cent increase in women working as prostitutes has hugely disrupted the chain of supply and demand. And the volume of available women has created a climate in which competition for business is rife.
Women, jostling for a finite quantity of clients, are forced to charge less and less. And, of course, clients have vastly reduced spending power due to the financial crsis. The result is an average fee of about €15 (£11).
Some prostitutes are also starting to offer riskier sex acts that clients will pay more for, such as unprotected sex – which carries a premium price, but is contributing to the rise in HIV.
I can’t help but think it’s tragic that it took an influx of ‘educated’ women turning to prostitution, for Greece’s legislative issues surrounding sex work to be recognised.
But it’s clearly essential they’re now brought to the fore.
And if the need to protect women such as Georgia – not to mention tackling the rise in HIV – isn’t enough to persuade the Greek government to re-examine their archaic prostitution laws?
Perhaps the economics might be.