‘They Do not Have Money’: Greece’s Prostitutes Hit Difficult by Monetary Crisis
ATHENS &mdash A potential client walked into the narrow, dimly lit room in the basement of a broken-down constructing in central Athens. Elena, 22, took off her robe and stood up. Evaggelia, her 59-year-old, fiery-tempered madam, instantly went into her pitch.
&ldquoMy girl is flawless,&rdquo Evaggelia mentioned in Greek. &ldquoI advise her with out reservation.&rdquo She recited the &ldquomenu,&rdquo and added that with one particular exception, &ldquomy girl does every little thing in bed.&rdquo
Without having taking off his sunglasses, the paunchy middle-aged client rubbed his chin and eyed Elena, a Russian-Polish prostitute, as she flipped her blond hair and turned in sky-higher black heels. &ldquoO.K.,&rdquo he ultimately stated.
The value? Twenty euros, about $23.
I was sitting a foot away on a tiny couch fitted with a plastic slipcover inside a brothel, witnessing this age-old transaction. We were on Filis Street &mdash a warren of alleyways and dingy two-story houses &mdash which has been residence to Athenian brothels for most of the previous century.
The trade is much more desperate now simply because of Greece&rsquos lost decade considering that the 2008 monetary crisis, which has left no profession unscathed. The collapsed economy and the arrival of tens of thousands of migrants have pushed even far more females into prostitution &mdash even as costs have fallen via the floor.
And for all the speak of a new era in gender relations, with women about the globe speaking out and forcing a reckoning against sexual violence, #MeToo does not exist here in this area bathed in red and purple lights, exactly where the girls are silent and their bodies are for sale, and a coffee table is loaded with condoms.
&ldquoI had a flower shop for 18 years &mdash and now I&rsquom here out of necessity, not out of joy,&rdquo stated Dimitra, a middle-aged woman who lost her shop in the crisis and now performs as a madam on Filis Street. &ldquoI utilized to be called Mrs. Dimitra, but now I&rsquove turn out to be a whore.&rdquo
In Greece, prostitution is legal in registered brothels, even though the vast majority of brothels in Athens are unregistered. Street prostitution is illegal, yet ladies routinely sell sex on some street corners. While several ladies enter the profession out of financial necessity, other people are trafficked or coerced into sex function.
&ldquoProstitution has elevated and changed, essentially in the context of the new political, economic and cultural atmosphere,&rdquo said Grigoris Lazos, a professor of criminology at Panteion University in Athens, referring to Greece&rsquos painful financial austerity.
Mr. Lazos spent six years researching how the nation&rsquos twin crises &mdash migration and financial austerity &mdash had changed prostitution in Athens. He identified that the number of prostitutes in the city had increased by 7 percent because 2012, however costs have dropped drastically, both for ladies working on the streets and in brothels.
&ldquoIn 2012, it would need an average of 39 euros&rdquo for a client to employ a prostitute in a brothel, Mr. Lazos said, &ldquowhile in 2017 just &euro17 &mdash a 56 % lower.&rdquo
According to Greek law, a brothel has to be at least about 655 feet away from schools, hospitals, churches, nurseries and public squares, among other places. But provided the density of downtown Athens, it&rsquos practically not possible to house prostitutes there legally. Mr. Lazos found that only eight of the 798 brothels operating in the city in August were legal.
The number was vastly different from the police statistics, which count no much more than 300 brothels in the city. A spokesman for the Athenian police, Theodoros Chronopoulos, explained that the official number does not contain hidden brothels.
Mr. Chronopoulos said that officers aggressively work to break up trafficking rings, pointing to rising arrests. But the police mainly leave brothels alone, he said, partly due to the fact of the sense amongst the authorities that they assist single guys deal with loneliness.
&ldquoWe&rsquore really tolerant when it comes to brothels,&rdquo he said, &ldquobecause we comprehend that what they do is social service.&rdquo
None of the ladies I interviewed, however, spoke of their profession as a social service, and they often expressed disgust for their male clients. Evaggelia, the madam exactly where Elena operates, stated of the guys: &ldquoThey&rsquore not worthy enough of a girlfriend. They think that by paying 20 euros, they purchase something.&rdquo
All the ladies insisted on making use of only one name because of the stigma and for safety motives. None said that she had been forced &mdash except by necessity &mdash to be there. But none wanted to be right here.
&ldquoI hate sex,&rdquo Elena mentioned. &ldquoI like the funds, not the job.&rdquo
Anastasia, recognized as &ldquoAmazon&rdquo to consumers, has worked as a prostitute given that she was 14. She&rsquos now 33, and says the function is harder than ever.
&ldquoPeople don&rsquot have funds anymore,&rdquo she stated a single afternoon in Satovriandou Street outdoors a hotel named Easy Access, exactly where consumers have sessions that final from ten minutes to a half-hour.
Anastasia says they promise, &ldquoI&rsquoll come when I get paid,&rdquo or they ask for bargains. Guys usually ask for unprotected sex, she said, and a lot of prostitutes who are drug addicts take on such consumers for much less than ten euros.
&ldquoThe ones that do it have AIDS, so they don&rsquot care, they&rsquore even performing it for vengeance,&rdquo according to Anastasia, who is in rehabilitation for drug addiction. &ldquoBut they&rsquove destroyed the industry.&rdquo
The quantity of H.I.V. cases in Greece has in fact dropped considering that 2012, when intravenous drug use was rampant throughout the height of the financial crisis, stated Dimitra Paraskeva, the head of Greece&rsquos H.I.V. workplace. Greece had 628 H.I.V. situations final year, almost half the number from six years ago, according to official data.
In the less costly Athenian brothels of Metaxourgio, I met Monica, a 30-year-old Albanian prostitute who grew up in the northern city of Thessaloniki. She mentioned she entered the company ten years ago, when she lived in Crete. She moved to Athens 5 years ago, in search of a new life, and initially worked in a taverna.
She had completed one particular year toward a culinary degree to turn into a cook and wanted to use her earnings to pay for a second year &mdash but her boss never ever paid her a salary.
&ldquoI came right here,&rdquo she mentioned of the brothel, &ldquobecause it&rsquos the only job that, after you do it, you know you&rsquoll get paid.&rdquo
These days, she spends six to eight hours a day attempting to entice clients, but most do not remain.
&ldquoThey don&rsquot have cash,&rdquo she stated. &ldquoThey haven&rsquot had money for the past seven years.&rdquo
When she does get a client, she charges ten euros for 10 minutes, and is allowed to preserve half.
&ldquoA few years ago, they employed to tip,&rdquo Monica stated. &ldquoThey&rsquod give you 20 and 50, even 100 euros if they liked it. Now, no more suggestions.&rdquo
With the Greek crisis, the clientele changed, also, the girls noted. They are now largely migrants, several who live in the apartments above the brothels in the gritty, low-rent places. Several Greek men are simply also poor to pay anymore.
&ldquoTheir wages utilized to be 800 or 900 euros,&rdquo Monica mentioned. &ldquoNow they get absolutely nothing.&rdquo
Apart from the improve in migrant clientele, Mr. Lazos&rsquos analysis pointed to an uptick of about 5 percent in Greek clientele among 2012 and 2017.
&ldquoIt&rsquos one thing that a man can&rsquot quit,&rdquo Manolis, a 33-year-old taxi-driver and brothel typical who insisted on becoming identified only by his 1st name, whispered one particular afternoon on Filis Street. A tiny white light was on outside several doors left half-opened, a signal to roaming consumers that a prostitute was available.
&ldquoSex is like smoking,&rdquo Manolis stated. &ldquoYou&rsquoll locate 20 euros for it, a single way or another.&rdquo
Despite the drop in rates, consumers have turn into choosier.
&ldquoSeven or eight years ago, 20 to 30 males would go to the bedroom with the girl,&rdquo mentioned Vaso, 65, who has been a madam for the previous 20 years. These days, she mentioned, it is more like 5 or six.
&ldquoNow they come, take a look,&rdquo she mentioned, &ldquoand say, &lsquoI&rsquoll be back.&rsquo &rdquo
Published at Sat, 27 Oct 2018 09:00:ten +0000