Saturday, November 8, 2014

Country Overview: Greece

This picture so perfectly embodies Greece - particularly Athens - to me. I never expected it to be such a huge, contemporary city. However, the remnants of streets, temples, and libraries that used to bustle with ancient activity rise even further above the modern apartments and office spaces. Though my time in Greece was extremely short, I learned so much through the people I met and the organizations I worked with

The Basics

Greece's population numbers 11.3 million - many of which reside in Athens, the country's capital and largest city. The official language is Greek, and I have to say, it's the hardest language I've come across yet. Within hours of arriving I had already stooped to the bad joke level of saying "It's all Greek to me," to some temporary travel companions I met along the way. The country is known for its delicious Mediterranean cuisine and numerous, beautiful islands. More renowned than these, though, is the country's ancient history, much of which has been fairly well preserved for the modern tourist.


Greece and My Project

Greek history alone is full of a myriad of examples of sexual promiscuity and, arguably, exploitation (more on this in an upcoming post). After the spread of Christianity and the entrenching of Greek Orthodoxy, though, these problems have continued, only now in hushed tones. One would never guess that this brothel, below right, is two metro stops away from this pristine tourist shopping street. What's more, the brothel below is in the middle of a residential area, where people walk their children to school, return from grocery stopping, and commute to work. Everyone knows what goes on behind this door, few know how to respond.


According to the 2014 TIP Report, Greece is largely a transit and destination country for sex trafficking. A sliver of prostitutes in Greece are Greek themselves - most come from other countries. The majority of female trafficking victims are from Eastern Europe, Nigeria, the Dominican Republic, and even China. The geography of Greece makes it extremely easy for traffickers to move victims across borders, coming through the Aegean islands by sea or the Turkish/Greek border by land. Unfortunately, these problems and the governments' poor response make Greece the first country I have visited to be placed on Tier 2 by the TIP office. This means that the government does not fully comply with international standards to combat trafficking in persons.

Though the research may clearly answer some of the questions below, I was curious to see how someone delivering direct services to victims would answer the following:

  1. How does the geography of the country affect the problem of sexual exploitation here?
  2. Have any particular historical events greatly influenced the problem of sexual violence towards women in the country?
  3. What about the culture affects women's issues in Greece?
  4. What are the nationalities of most of the victims you encounter?
  5. How is the government responding to the problem?

First Impressions

On a lighter note, though, Greece is truly beautiful. My first view was from a boat that took me across the Adriatic sea:

The Greek culture seems very lively and enjoyable, as well. Dinner doesn't usually start until after 8pm (or later), and the fun usually goes late into the night. This was certainly a difficult country to visit, as it was evident that the problem of sexual exploitation is greater here than in other countries I visited, but I have hope that the people of Greece will soon wake up to the tragedies around them and demand change.




1 comment:

Cristhina D said...

Thank you for sharing about this! love how you write!