Greece’s eight-year-long economic crisis has led to a jump in the number of women engaging in prostitution, which is legal, although there are reportedly far more being sexually trafficked against their will, many from other countries.
A study by Athens’ Panteion University found there’s also been a jump in the number of customers who simply have to look for the state-allowed studios with white lights on their doors, signaling they are approved brothels.
According to the results of the research, the rise in prostitution began after 2010, coinciding with the social and cultural implications of Greece’s financial and migration crisis, said Kathimerini, which brought harsh austerity and more than 64,000 refugees and migrants to the country.
The number of women engaging in prostitution rose from 17,000 in 2012 to 18,200 in 2017, the survey said, with the number of clients soaring from 435,000 to 605,000 even though men and women offer sex free through online chat rooms and other social media.
Migrant clients also increased dramatically to 160,000 in 2017, compared to 14,000 in 2012, with many from countries where prostitution is not lawful and women have few rights at all.
The increase was seen across the board – in houses, studios and on the streets. The study further showed that rates for services have also decreased significantly.
Greek laws don’t even account for male prostitutes and various reports have said that many older men engage young migrant men in Athens’ Omonia Square for paid sex. Even underage migrant boys reportedly have taken to prostitution or forced into it.
In February, Greek police said they had broken up a gang that procured foreign women via a website and arrested 12 people. Among the victims of the gang was a young teenager from Bulgaria although it wasn’t reported whether she was underage.
According to the investigation, the gang members would recruit women, mainly from Albania and Romania, to work in Greece and then force them into prostitution at hotels, homes and a brothel in central Athens.
The police said 10 of the arrested suspects are foreign nationals from Albania, Romania, Russia, Georgia and Kazakhstan.
Prostitution in Greece is legal at the age of 18, and regulated although it’s been estimated only 1,000 women were legally employed but 20,000, mostly foreigners, were forced into it and few reports of prosecution against their pimps and handlers.