NEWS

Fewer trafficked women

Today, foreign procured women account for 75 percent of the total number of sex workers in Greece. According to estimates, thousands of female victims of trafficking are forced into prostitution in this country. They lack residence permits, and are trapped by the unceasing watchfulness of their procurers. In 2002, the number of women in forced prostitution dropped, from 20,000 to 17,000. This figure appears to have dropped even further in 2003, and looks set to fall to under 14,000 women and children in 2004. The peak was reached in 1997 and 1998, with over 22,000 women in Greece in forced prostitution. From 1999, there was a steady, if slight drop that has accelerated since 2001. The basic reasons for the drop, said Lazos, were, first and foremost, financial difficulties among the categories of clients who use these services and, secondly, police action that has managed to strike at the gangs systematically and in an organized fashion. A third reason is that people have become aware of the problem and that victims are better informed. If the clientele was to become sensitized, it could lead to a spectacular drop in the phenomenon. In Europe, half a million women are trafficked every year, while profits from this modern slave trade are estimated to reach $8 billion a year. The majority of women who end up in illegal, forced prostitution do so after false promises of legal work. The clients are accomplices to the crime. On the basis of the male population, Greece and Germany have the largest number of women in forced prostitution. But the figure for Greece, calculated on the size of the European Union, should not exceed 4,000-5,000 women.