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Prostitution in Greece is Legal & Illegal Page 3

But the one thing we don’t need to live with is the forced prostitution of women and the exploitation of children forced to beg at traffic lights. Combating the sex rackets, however, is going to be particularly difficult, seeing the huge demand for prostitution in Greece. Grigoris Lazos, an academic and special adviser to the Public Order Ministry committee on trafficking said last June that the turnover from the exploitation of women and children forced into prostitution in Greece totaled an astronomical 6 billion euros over the last 10 years. (Consider the fact that the narcotics trade in Greece is estimated to have an annual turnover of about 1 billion euros and you get an idea of the size of the problem).

Lazos was speaking at a news conference heralding a public awareness campaign against sexual exploitation conducted by the Stop Now team of the non-governmental Center for Research and Action for Peace. In 1990, the number of victims of sexual exploitation came to 2,100. It hit a record 21,700 in 1997. There has been a slight decline since, which Lazos attributed to more intensive policing and economic problems leading to a shortage of cash among customers. He said 19,500 were forced into prostitution in 2000, among whom were about 1,000 children aged 13, 14 and 15.

Lazos’s research has shown that in the decade from 1992 to 2002, men paid 200 million visits to prostitutes. That would translate into 55,000 visits per day. This means that apart from the familiar problems of bringing policy into effect — sloppiness, lack of urgency, lack of professionalism and accountability among those entrusted with doing this — difficulties are presented by the fact that prostitution is so widespread and tolerated to such an extent. When a large number of men in a small town, for example, patronise the dives in which women are on offer, society begins to tolerate the poison, thinking that it is immune to it. This creates a whirlpool of moral equivocation. The money involved is so much that police officers can be tempted to look the other way. Even if they are not on the take, they may be loath to stir up reaction by cracking down on something tolerated by everyone else in the same small society. And it goes on and on.

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