Prostitution in the center of Athens has grown to uncontrollable sizes, turning into a booming underground economy with a turnover approaching that of soft drugs.
It is indicative the fact that only illegal profits from the historic center of Athens exceed 100 million euro annually.
This is an astronomical amount for the City of Athens, which loses huge amounts of municipal fees and taxes, as most brothels are illegal.
From "Sofokleous" str to "Metaksourgio" square there are 250 brothels operating, out of which only 7 have a permit. The competent authorities sounded the alarm because due to the lack of preventive measures and medical control there has been a boom of infectious diseases.
The problem is further exacerbated because most women work under the conditions of undeclared work, without having the required for this health records.
The Athens municipality have "given up" because it is unable to control the illegal brothels hat are "sprouting like mushrooms", while the "shutters" that they put periodically to these brothels cost them additional expenses.
Meanwhile, older hotels in downtown Athens have been turned into brothels, while in recent years as sites offering "paid love" are also presented the so-called "studios" that are presented as "Fitness Centres".
These are small houses, without the red lanterns at the entrance, offering "services" almost exclusively to Greeks, at much higher prices than those of the "ranks". Thanks to the legislative framework they are untouchable because they are not listed in any law, they open doors one after another and actually replace the brothels. The only government body that can control them, is the police. So their owners, taking advantage of the legal vacuum, can open them with a simple application for setting up a business filed in the tax office.
The Municipality of Athens expressed its inability to cope with the problem
It is paying to close down the brothels
"Not only do we lose tax revenues, but we also pay every time we close a brothel," emphasizes on the fact that the deputy mayor of Athens Nelly Papahela who attributes the problem to the strict legislation that prevents more brothels from being legalized.
Therefore, the municipality is preparing proposals for changes in the legislative framework. "Under the existing law we do not control any brothel. We close one down, two more open" notes Ms. Papahela, adding that even in cases where arrests are made after several hours the detainees are released, as these crimes are qualified as misdemeanors.
As result a sense of impunity is created and "nurseries" spring up around the brothels that facilitate the women trafficking.
In any case, all involved in the issue recognize that if we legalize brothels, this will affect positively not only the finances of the municipality, but the insurance funds as well.
For example, the law allows the issuance of a permit for the owner of a brothel only to unmarried women over 50 years old, and brothels must be located at least 200 meters away from schools, churches, playgrounds, etc.
10 orders per month
It should be noted that per month the municipal police issues about 10 orders for the closing down of brothels. Out of these about 40% are performed because of ambiguity in the law that allows their cancellation after a court case has been filed. It is also stressed upon the fact that about 50% of the orders which are enforced concern the reclosing of the same brothels.
It is spread everywhere
"Map" of the paid love
"Ranks" for paid sex are scattered throughout the center of Athens. Over the past year, the phenomenon has spread in a radius of 1.5 km. from the central square "Omonia" in all directions and is constantly expanding. The girls are countless, they are offering themselves at very low prices, very few of them undergo medical examinations and are like "prisoners" of their patrons. In the vast majority of them they are afraid of exposing to the authorities the mafia that manages them. Thus, very few of them spoke and even less recognize that they are victims of trafficking. "Phyllis" street and the surrounding blocks remain the main center of brothels operating illegally.
On "Kapodistriou" str. which has very bad reputation, on one side are offered African women and on the other side girls from the Balkans and Eastern Europe.
At night, behind and above the street "Eshilou" there are offered young people who have moved there from "Eleftherias" square (Koumoundourou). Further back at "Metaksourgio" Square among small restaurants, there is one more "rank".
The "cherry" among a the hangout for prostitutes is "Evripidou" str. and naturally "Sokratus" street. According to information gathered through all these years, there are Nigerian women, who have been blackmailed to come to Greece under the threat of voodoo by international trafficking networks.
Quite rapidly is also developing the prostitution phenomenon in the area, surrounded by the streets "28th October", "Veranzerou", "Halkokondili" and "3rd September".
The commercial and historic street "Patision" from "Omonia" square to Galatsi has acquired a new field of business: prostitution.
At the same time, in Ghazi, near the railway line on the streets "Konstantinoupoleos", "Megas Alexandros", "Kasandras" and on "Piraeus", more and more brothels calling themselves "Studio" open doors, and recently one opened in Koukaki.