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Athens tightens the regulations on the oldest profession

30 April 2014 / 17:04:12  GRReporter
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The new restrictive regulations on the functioning of brothels will lead to an increase in illegal prostitution and, consequently, to a boom of sexually transmitted diseases, according to Dimitra Kanellopoulou, president of the union of Greek prostitutes.

As she says, a few of the 150 older brothels that had a licence before can function under the new requirements; they can be counted on the fingers of one hand.

The union of Greek prostitutes and five of their colleagues from Thessaloniki have already submitted a complaint to the Supreme Administrative Court, arguing that the new restrictive regulations on brothels are contrary to the Constitution and the guaranteed right to economic and personal freedom.

"Act 2734 of 1999, which was introduced while PASOK was in power, had made us legal hostages. Because, on the one hand, it allowed the obtaining of a licence to practise a profession and on the other, all of its provisions were disastrous for us," Dimitra Kanellopoulou told TVXS.

The Act of 1999 does not allow opening of brothels in traditional buildings or buildings, which are monuments of culture, as well as in buildings that do not meet the requirements of the general construction regulations. It also prohibits the opening of brothels near schools, churches, nurseries, childcare centres, training centres and others, at a distance shorter than 200 metres.

"Now they have added hotels, i.e. a brothel cannot be open near a hotel, at a distance shorter than 200 metres," complains the president of the union of Greek prostitutes.

Moreover, the laws passed in 2014, "in connection with sealed brothels, stipulate that the owners of the real estate and the women working in them are threatened with imprisonment from three months to five years, without the right of appeal, or with the payment of a bail," adds Kanellopoulou.

"This means that the administrative offence becomes a felony while drug dealers and rapists can save their skins after paying a bail", complains the president.

"At the same time, they perceive street prostitution as a misdemeanour and persecute us although we do blood tests every month and undergo vaginal examinations every 15 days," emphasizes Kanellopoulou.

"What do they want from us? All of us who have a licence to practise the profession pay 23% VAT and 320 euro a month to the Social Insurance Institute. So, do we have to close brothels and go out in the street in order for this to be perceived as a misdemeanour?" asks the president of the Union of Greek prostitutes.

"We are fighting for our right to work; we want to defend our choice to work as prostitutes. The state issues the licence to practise the profession and we must take care of where we can practise it," she adds.

The majority of brothels in Athens are closed and "under the new requirements even 10 of them cannot obtain a licence," says Kanellopoulou.

"My establishment has been working since 1956, with a licence issued by the Kingdom of Greece, i.e. during the time of the monarchic regime, and now it turns out that when we have a democratic regime of government, we cannot obtain a licence. This is crazy", she complains.

The result of the Act of 1999 and that of 2014 is "an increase in illegal prostitution and naturally, a boom of sexually transmitted diseases. Public health is put in jeopardy and they do nothing about this," says Kanellopoulou.

Asked if, in her opinion, this attitude relates to the fact that prostitution is still considered as a taboo, the president of the Union of Greek prostitute replies, "What taboos are we talking about in view of this spiritual poverty and moral decay? This is the oldest profession in Athens. The small percentages of prostitutes who want to obey the law are being driven to turn to illegal prostitution."

As to the position of political parties and representatives of local government, Dimitra Kanellopoulou expresses her dissatisfaction with the "fact that Athens Mayor Giorgos Kaminis won't agree to meet with us and is continuously closing brothels." In addition, "the issues raised in Parliament by SYRIZA MPs do not relate to the issuance of licences for brothels after the appropriate controls." "The same is true for a New Democracy MP who supports the closure of brothels," complains Dimitra Kanellopoulou.

"I do not mean to go out and work in the streets at the age of 54 and after 30 years in the industry. That will not go down with me," the president of the Union of Greek prostitutes says in conclusion.

Tags: Union of Greek prostitutesNew regulationsLicenceBrothels
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