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Crisis hits women harder

26 April 2013 / 21:04:12  GRReporter
2437 reads

Anastasia Balezdrova

In the third year of the worst economic crisis in Greece, unemployment levels are record high. According to recent data from the first quarter of 2013, it has reached 27.2%.

"Currently, the unemployment rate among women is 31.4% - 7.5% higher than in men. In 2008, the corresponding rate was 6.2%," said Dr. Cephas Lumina, independent UN expert, in Athens. For five days, he met with representatives of ministries, non-governmental and civic organizations and the main opposition party SYRIZA in order to examine the effects of the implementation of the austerity measures on Greek society.

He started his presentation clarifying that he would present preliminary observations from his visit to Greece. "The report will be prepared and submitted to the Human Rights Council of the United Nations in March next year. I am now presenting preliminary observations and recommendations."

With regard to the difficult access of women to the labour market, Cephas Lumina referred to data submitted by the Greek Ombudsman. "The institution has been receiving an increasing number of complaints about illegal dismissals due to pregnancy or pressure on women to work without pay or insurance."

As revealed by the case of immigrant workers in the strawberry plantations in Nea Manolada, the majority of foreigners have no insurance and receive very low wages. Cephas Lumina welcomed the response and actions of the Greek government connected with this case but urged it to provide unobstructed access for all to the authorities that control the violations of the labour law.

One of the most visible consequences of the crisis is the reduced access to health services. "The unemployed are insured for 12 months. Once they stop receiving aid, their health insurance stops as well." Cephas Lumina was informed of the problem by the non-governmental organization Doctors of the World, which reports an increase in the number of visits by Greeks whereas during the years before the crisis, only immigrants visited their clinics.

The independent expert presented various data on the reduced income of the Greeks, which he pledged to examine in the coming months. An example of this is the number of homeless people, which, according to non-governmental organizations, is as high as 20,000. Official institutions such as the Mayor of Athens, George Kaminis, however, refute this figure and state that the number of people who are living in the streets is not higher than 1,200. However, the observer of the United Nations recommends that the Greek government should initiate a social programme to help the people who have no shelter.

Similarly, it was not clear how the representatives of the academic circles had found out that 10.37% of Greeks were living in conditions of extreme poverty.

Cephas Lumina paid particular attention to the attacks on immigrants carried out by extremist and xenophobic groups. He cited the data presented a few days ago by the Recording Network of Incidents of Racist Violence and the Greek representation of the Supreme Secretariat for Refugees. The expert said he was particularly concerned about the escalation of racist violence. He stressed the need for the government to deliver a strong message to society that "it does not tolerate such criminal acts by strengthening the legal and institutional framework for their elimination."

“This morning, I received from the Ministry of Citizen Protection information on cases of violence with racist motives, for which I thank them. I will analyze this information and add it to the final report," said Cephas Lumina.

In connection with the privatization programme of the government, the expert said that the acts of the government must be very careful especially in the case of companies that provide basic public services.

He added that the probability of them being bought by local or foreign interests was very high. Therefore, he urged the government to set up investment funds, which would enable the Greek citizens to participate in the privatization of state enterprises.

Tags: SocietyCrisisIndependent UN expertCephas Lumina
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