Greek Sex Workers Say COVID-19 Restrictions Drive Away Clients

ATHENS – Prostitution is legal in Greece, in regulated brothels, but the women who practice the world’s oldest profession said strict hygiene measures required to let the businesses reopen with the end of the COVID-19 lockdown isn’t sitting well with costumers.

They said the health and safety guidelines to protect them and their clients against the coronavirus will harm their business, said the news agency Reuters, regulations beginning June 15 and include requiring them to get the name and phone numbers of clients.

Men who frequent the sex businesses don’t want their identities known, nor their phone numbers, the requirement aimed at being able to track and trace people in case someone gets infected with the virus.

“What client is going to give us their personal information? I tell you, people are going to go hungry,” said Anna Kouroupou, a trans-woman who heads Red Umbrella, a support group.

Masks are also required in the brothels, raising the question of how that would be practical for oral sex or face-to-face contact and with the whole sense of sex being impossible for customers to keep a social distance of 1.5 meters (4.92 feet) from the sex worker.

Also rules require sex partners during the act, or acts, to keep their heads apart, bed linen changed after each encounter, paying by debit or credit cards and not cash.

“They are ridiculous and I’m putting it mildly,” a woman called Rita, who manages a brothel in central Athens told the paper.

After almost three months of stay-at-home orders, customers were lining up, almost charging in the door of brothels, reports said, although the new requirements could change that, the workers fear.

“It’s been mad, someone said sex-starved,” said Rita, counting out 15 euros ($16.88) left by each client.

The sex workers – earlier reports said some women are forced into sex by human traffickers – were not allowed to do what they do during the lockdown but now are just as eager to get their hands on money as men are to get their hands on them.

The report said during the lockdown, with the sex workers shut out, that they tried to help each other survive in other ways, including collecting supermarket coupons to make food purchases go even further.

She and others in the business fear the new rules may force sex workers to go underground. She also dismisses the notion of orderly queues at brothels, the report said.

“They almost break down the door in their hurry to get in because they are embarrassed to be seen. How will they be expected to queue? It’s ridiculous.”


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