OPINION

The ugly social ills simmering in Evia

The deplorable case involving the rape of a 16-year-old girl, allegedly by a group of fellow pupils, at a school on Evia brings to the surface several ailments of Greek society, many of which we would prefer to sweep under the carpet. The case highlights, once again, the ills of the Greek television sector, where various channels chasing the short-term distinctions of the AGB viewer ratings firm pay lip service to respecting the journalistic code of conduct but then go on to systematically violate it. Similarly, although they insist that they are not trying to replace the judiciary and carry out interrogations, they extract all manner of lurid details from the protagonists of the issues they are covering under the pretext of enlightening the public. Questions such as «What did your son tell you about the case?» or «How did your daughter get back from school?» or «Can your child’s mobile phone record videos?» belong in the courtroom. These questions also reveal the fixation with attracting viewers by broadcasting as many grisly details as possible. Most concerning, however, is the problem of racism, which is rearing its ugly head once again in Greek society. The victim in the alleged rape case on Evia is a girl of Bulgarian origin. Perhaps the stereotype of foreign women having «loose morals» – due to the tendency of many to find work in late-night bars – fueled the groundless conclusions that the apparent rape was not actually rape but a voluntary sexual union. Indeed, the fact that the citizens of Amarynthos on Evia staged a protest to express their solidarity with the accused boys smashes yet another myth about Greeks being immune to racism. Many claim that Greeks are not racist. This is untrue. But the opposite of this, that Greeks are racist, is also untrue. This stance itself, according to which an entire nation is racist or not racist, is prejudiced. Some Greeks exhibit racist behavior while others are tolerant of foreigners living alongside them in society. Some claim that there are very few demonstrations of racist behavior in Greece. This may be the case but one can only speculate. There are no statistics to give us an overall impression of the situation. Others claim that the racists among us are few and far between. But the problem of racism in our society cannot be observed simply through the scrutiny of citizens. The problem of racism becomes clear the day after a racist incident – it is clear in the abhorrence or the justification it provokes among citizens at large. And this is where the truly ugly side of our society rears its head.