Jyothi Kanics---Global Survival Network (email@example.com)
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.
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
There was no suicide note. But the 20-year-old woman's
has become a rallying cry for investigators and
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
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
a retired officer were arrested Thursday after a
prosecutor staked out an alleged hideout for
Last week, police charged 33 people with running a
13 brothels that had hundreds of prostitutes from
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
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
Greece had no more than 2,000 illegal prostitutes,
The huge increase is not unique. Eastern European
been migrating to wealthier countries for years, and
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
Europe or the Middle East.''
Greece's proximity to the poorest Eastern European
contributes to its role in the regional networks,
``But the main factor is the corruption. You can't
enterprises this big and this complex without corrupt
Prosecutors refuse to speculate on the size of the
prostitution operations in Greece. But the
has already reached high officials.
The public order minister was dismissed last month in
government shuffle. Less than a week later, the former
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,
complete overhaul of the vice squad in the Athens area
vowed to champion a ``relentless'' campaign to ferret
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
Italy led to a wide-ranging crusade that implicated
and business figures.
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