Prostitutes insist on brothel bill

Dozens of Athens prostitutes demonstrated outside the Parliament yesterday morning to protest at the government’s axing of draft legislation that would have eased draconian restrictions on the operation of licensed brothels in the capital. «We demand our right to work and live in dignity,» prostitutes said in a statement. «We suffer daily hassle and abuse.» The government promised to revise the law on brothels after a summer strike by prostitutes. Tens of thousands of women, often in their teens, work illegally in Greece’s sex industry. Most are immigrants from poor Eastern European countries forced into prostitution by gangs that lure them to Greece with promises of honest employment. The Interior Ministry bill that would have halved – to 100 meters – the distance legal brothels must keep from churches, schools, hospitals, youth clubs and playgrounds, while letting married women work as prostitutes, was withdrawn by PM Costas Simitis after meeting strong opposition from Parliament Speaker Apostolos Kaklamanis, the Church, feminist groups and conservatives.