NEWS

Oldest profession to get a shot in the arm

As host to the Olympic Games this year, Greece this summer is not merely a tourist destination but also a magnet for gangs engaged in the sex trade, drawn by the possibilities offered by 1 million visitors from all over the world. The authorities fear that trafficking in women will increase during the Games and have drawn up contingency plans to deal with the threat, sources say. These will remain shrouded in secrecy, for obvious reasons. It is considered probable that women armed with tourist visas will enter Greece quite legally from other countries in Southeastern Europe. Sex traffickers will thus be able to bring in women bound for prostitution at no danger and with little cost, and be able to exploit increased tourist numbers as well as a more tolerant attitude on the part of the authorities, who will be focused on Games security. Over the last few years, a squeeze by the authorities on cross-border smuggling and the establishment of anti-trafficking offices in Thessaloniki and Athens have posed considerable difficulties for trafficking rings. But they have not stamped them out completely, as gang bosses find more effective and safer methods. Perhaps the most encouraging element is the fact that a growing number of women are breaking the silence and bringing charges against their exploiters.