By Spiros Sideris – Athens
In Greece of the crisis, the industry of prostitution (illegal or not) is booming and returns with a vengeance in recent years showing a rapid rise.
As noted by the valid article of “Vimagazino”, a recent report commissioned jointly by the Department of Criminology at Panteion University, the National Centre for Social Research (NCSR) and the Ombudsman, shows an increase in prostitution by 1,500%. Some social scientists dispute these numbers. The truth, however, is that the economic crisis has not left this field unaffected. Both the numbers and the human geography of prostitution in Greece have changed.
New girls trapped in the specter of unemployment are added to the old prostitutes and the ever-increasing victims of trafficking. Students are forced to take this road, to find financial resources to continue their studies. They report that demand has fropped sharply dragging the prices down. The “tariff” in the brothels at the moment ranges between 20 to 30 euros.
Most of the brothels operating in Athens did not have a license. According to data reported to Parliament in 2013, the local council closed down 20 brothels and resealed 167 more.
Inside this particular subculture there is a strict stratification that is developed like a pyramid. At the top of the pyramid is the “elite” prostitution. The escorts and prostitutes for “special vices”, who are 2-3% of the total prostitution and cater to the upper class. They work in the clients’ homes or in good hotels via telephone appointment or special bars. This form of prostitution is expensive, from 120-150 euros per hour up to 2,500 euros for 24 hours per day, and has not been affected by the economic crisis.
A little further down the pyramid are the brothels and studios. At the bottom of the pyramid are the street prostitutes, mainly migrant women victims of trafficking. A particular subclass here, and perhaps the most impoverished, are drug addicts who work as prostitutes to pay for their drugs . According to research by Kethea, 6 out of 10 women who are drug addicts engage in prostitution to ensure their dose. Prices in these categories are degrading, ranging between 5 and 15 euros.
A final category is a separate category of the prostitution of trans women that takes place in different places and are less vulnerable to violence, because of the strong intra-supporting framework they have created together.
Forced prostitution, despite the fact that is crushes the democratic face of Europe, constitutes the majority of prostitution. Trafficking in women is estimated to generate about $80 billion a year in Europe. According to an earlier study by the International Organization for Migration, only 45% of the women victims of trafficking manages to escape in the first 12 months.
In a survey that was conducted on a sample of 130 foreign women who were abused as prostitutes showed that 32% did not know where they were and 33% could not answer what day it was”. According to the annual report of the State Department, Greece is a country of transit and destination – and for a very limited number a country of origin – for women and children trafficked for the purpose of trafficking. These are mainly women from Eastern Europe, Africa, the Dominican Republic and China. In 2013, 37 cases of human trafficking was referred to the Greek Police Services , of which 24 were related to sexual exploitation.