Premier kills bill on brothels

Responding to pressure from conservatives and feminist lobby groups, Parliament’s top official said yesterday that a new bill which would have facilitated the operation of legal brothels ahead of next year’s Olympic Games has been shelved. Parliament Speaker Apostolos Kaklamanis, who forced the government to withdraw the draft law when it was tabled in mid-November, said he had raised the matter with Premier Costas Simitis, who agreed to drop the bill. The proposal, drafted by the Interior Ministry in response to complaints by the prostitutes’ union, would have halved the minimum distance brothels must keep from schools, churches, hospitals, youth clubs and playgrounds to 100 meters, and allowed married women to work as prostitutes. Prostitutes went on strike during the summer to demand reforms to Greece’s draconian laws on brothels, arguing that it is now well-nigh impossible to set up shop legitimately. At the same time, tens of thousands of women – mostly immigrant victims of human trafficking – work illegally as prostitutes.