NEWS:Prostitution Scandal Stuns Greece

New Message Reply Date view Thread view Subject view Author view

Jyothi Kanics---Global Survival Network (
Fri, 20 Nov 1998 07:36:32 -0800 (PST)

Prostitution Scandal Stuns Greece

                          By BRIAN MURPHY Associated Press Writer

                          ATHENS, Greece (AP) -- The young woman's world was
                          closing in around her.

                          She left Russia with the promise of a job in Greece,
                          say. It turned out to be prostitution. Then she was
stashed in a
                          stifling apartment bordello in the port of Salonica.
She and the
                          other women there were rarely allowed to leave.
Clients visited
                          at all hours.

                          The anguish for Irini Penkina ended last month, in the
                          apartment's narrow bathroom. She tied black pantyhose
                          a pipe above the toilet. The other end was knotted
around her

                          There was no suicide note. But the 20-year-old woman's
                          has become a rallying cry for investigators and
activists seeking
                          to understand the extent of illegal prostitution in

                          What the inquiries have uncovered has staggered the
                          claims of sexual slavery, accusations of corruption --
                          alleged police protection for the groups. The
revelations suggest
                          Greece has become a European Union foothold for
                          rings with links throughout the former Soviet bloc.

                          A series of raids have led to dozens of arrests. A
policeman and
                          a retired officer were arrested Thursday after a
                          prosecutor staked out an alleged hideout for

                          Last week, police charged 33 people with running a
network of
                          13 brothels that had hundreds of prostitutes from
former Soviet

                          Nearly all the alleged pimps and enforcers for the
                          rings are Greeks -- a disturbing disclosure in a
nation inclined to
                          make foreigners the scapegoats for most social ills.

                          The situation also energized Greece's weak feminist

                          ``The collapse of communism has been good for Greece's
                          `promoters' in the prostitution racket,'' said Georgia
Doussia, a
                          member of a newly formed group opposing forced

                          An estimated 20,000 foreign women work as unregistered
                          prostitutes in Greece, which has a small and tightly
                          legal sex-for-sale industry. Before the fall of the
Iron Curtain,
                          Greece had no more than 2,000 illegal prostitutes,
police say.

                          The huge increase is not unique. Eastern European
women have
                          been migrating to wealthier countries for years, and
end up
                          working as prostitutes -- some willingly, but most
lured by ads
                          for work in nightclubs or as dancers, investigators

                          But researchers believe Greece may be one of the
                          hubs of the sex trade.

                          ``It's a processing center for prostitutes,'' said
Gregoris Lazos, a
                          professor at Athens' Panteion University who has led a
                          decade-long study of prostitution trends.

                          ``Girls are brought here. They have no money and their
                          passports are taken away. They become the property of
                          rings. Within a few years they are full-time
prostitutes. They say
                          they are `processed.' And then they are sold to other
rings in
                          Europe or the Middle East.''

                          Greece's proximity to the poorest Eastern European
                          contributes to its role in the regional networks,
Lazos suggested.

                          ``But the main factor is the corruption. You can't
operate illegal
                          enterprises this big and this complex without corrupt
                          he said.

                          Prosecutors refuse to speculate on the size of the
                          prostitution operations in Greece. But the
anti-corruption drive
                          has already reached high officials.

                          The public order minister was dismissed last month in
                          government shuffle. Less than a week later, the former
head of
                          the national police and 15 others were charged with
                          including allegations of taking kickbacks to issue
                          permits to foreign women. There was speculation that
                          prosecutors could eventually link the permits and the

                          Some police officers also are under investigation for
                          offering protection to pimps.

                          The new police chief, Gen. Yiannis Georgakopoulos,
ordered a
                          complete overhaul of the vice squad in the Athens area
                          vowed to champion a ``relentless'' campaign to ferret
out rotten

                          The reformist attitudes have even spilled over to the
                          Prosecutors have ordered newspapers not to publish
                          veiled sex ads such as those for escort and massage

                          Some newspapers have raised free speech objections.
                          many media commentators praised the emphasis on ethics
                          wondered whether it could launch a more thorough
                          housecleaning -- such as the way low-level kickback
probes in
                          Italy led to a wide-ranging crusade that implicated
top politicians
                          and business figures.

                          AP-NY-11-19-98 1656EST

New Message Reply Date view Thread view Subject view Author view

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.0b3 on Sun May 23 1999 - 13:43:56 EDT