June 6, 2023

Athens News

News in English from Greece

The energy crisis hit Greek brothels

The energy crisis and skyrocketing prices – the result of Western sanctions against Russia – have also hit the brothels: electricity bills have become unsustainable. The owners of the establishments are asking for the intervention of the authorities to reduce costs.

Prostitution has always been a constant feature of Greece’s vibrant nightlife. But amid fears of a wave of price hikes sweeping through most businesses, the oldest profession has also suffered. Unbearable bills are forcing the remaining legal entrepreneurs to make emergency decisions in the hope of reducing electricity consumption.

Brothel owners say their clientele has dwindled since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, and “inflated” electricity bills will ruin them completely. Greek brothels fell into a financial quagmire from the very beginning of the covid quarantine, and after a sharp rise in prices, they are forced to “turn off the red lights”. At the same time, there has been a sharp surge in illegal prostitution.

A prostitute on Poseidonos Avenue in Glyfada, a southern suburb of Athens. Irini Photos voorloomis

Elli Kanellopulu, president of the Hellenic Association of Prostitutes (Σωματείου Εκδιδόμενων Προσώπων Ελλάδας, Σ.Ε.Π.Ε.), explained to thesstoday.gr that before the pandemic and the economic crisis, air conditioners in brothels worked all day. Now there is no such thing. “The electricity bill for the average brothel per month is 1,000 euros, possibly more. So we are all taking steps to try and cut consumption. Many people now turn off indoor air conditioners when there are no customers, causing them to wait for the room to cool down. In the past, of course, this did not happen, but now it is just an emergency decision, like turning off the power,” Ms Kanellopulu said.

She explained that rising prices shut down businesses in the sector, which in turn causes illegal work to flourish and eventually the sector to collapse. “The legal workers of brothels are only 6%, while the percentage of illegal workers has jumped to more than 90%. What will happen is that they will all be closed and prostitutes will take to the streets, which is already observed to a very large extent,” she noted. Kanellopulu, emphasizing that “now for us it is a matter of survival.”

Advertising “individuals” via the Internet

One of the means that contributed to the rapid spread of illegal prostitution is the Internet and sites where anyone can “rent” the so-called “escort girls” or even “girls next door” for any length of time. Both the onslaught of the pandemic and the suffocation of legal brothels have greatly increased the mobility of meetings at home or in hotels or Airbnb apartments through dating sites, Ms. Kanellopulu said.

“There is a lot going on on the internet. Direct contact between a client and a prostitute has become easy and the meeting now takes place at a chosen location. This is a problem for us because when a client does not come to a legal brothel, they resort to solutions that, end up making life harder for those who work legally,” she said.

On the streets of Athens you can meet prostitutes from many countries of the world, including from Brazil

On the streets of Athens you can meet prostitutes from many countries of the world, including from Brazil

Where it leads

Greece has already experienced during the financial crisis of 2009-2019 periods when prostitution spilled into the streets and thousands of “priestesses of love” worked illegally. This usually led to a sharp increase in sexually transmitted diseases and HIV, as well as an increase in violence and even more criminalization of this already not very prosperous branch of the Greek economy.

For example: in the period from 2011 to 2015. the number of HIV infections increased by 200% in Greece. In April 2012, after a 60% increase in HIV infection in a year, Athens authorities arrested many drug addicts and prostitutes and introduced mandatory HIV testing of these individuals. The media became involved in the persecution and published the names and photographs of the HIV-infected. This action has made sex workers wary of being tested if their names are released if they test positive.

Reference: in Greece, brothels are permitted type of business which employs tens of thousands of people, and its turnover in Greece is estimated at 800 million euros. Despite the legal basis of this type of activity, it is thoroughly criminalized. To date, only in Athens there are more than 600 brothels, including at least 100 in the center of the capital, of which only 20 work legally. Repeatedly over the past years, the local press, including on the pages of our publication, published materials on the subject of human trafficking, forced prostitution, as well as the spread of various diseases by prostitutes, incl. AIDS.

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