Human traffic: Profiting from foreign women

The anti-trafficking squad of the Attica security police recently broke up the largest gang ever found trading in women for sexual exploitation, after picking up the trail in one of the hundreds of classifieds posted every day in the tabloids. A total of 22 people have been charged in connection with the racket that exploited 28 women, had 15,000 registered customers and a monthly revenue of at least 100,000 euros. It is not the first time police have been put on the right track by classified ads. A mere glance at these pages in the tabloids is enough for anyone to realize that gangs of pimps use them as a cover to reach thousands of prospective customers, with promises of «cheeky dolls,» «lusty bodies» or «imported models with perfect proportions» from Russia, Ukraine, the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, even Japan and Brazil, not to mention every corner of Greece. Police have discovered that many of these rackets involve women, even underage girls, who have been forced into prostitution, but this does not appear to have prompted any action by the judiciary; their preferred course has been to leave the decision to print these ads to the discretion of newspaper publishers. Revenue from these advertisements is considerable, given that hundreds of them are printed every day and the price charged is almost three times as much as other classifieds, resulting in profits of thousands of euros daily. Only once has a prosecutor taken action. In 1995, after a judicial investigation, a total of 20 charges were brought against six evening newspapers and one Sunday newspaper. Although the charges were the same in all cases, the court’s rulings differed. Only two convictions resulted, and in two other cases the court decided it did not have the authority to pass rulings. In the other 16 cases, the charges were dropped, after the court decided that in most cases, the charge, which was of facilitating sexual intercourse, was not the main profession of the accused. In the other cases, it was decided that publishing the advertisement did not prove that intercourse did in fact take place. As for the two convictions, they were accompanied by sentences of one and 10 months, for which payment is accepted in lieu of imprisonment. So although it is a crime to «facilitate sexual intercourse for third parties through the press,» it actually goes unpunished and the perpetrators are allowed to continue committing their crimes.