We are on our own in Athens until we leave for Rome on Monday so we got to explore the back streets ast night. We are not naive and are used to being around unsafe places, but this was pretty intense. Away from the legal brothels are the dirty streets, the smell of urine and dog faeces that i can’t imagine on summer nights. There were pimps and drug pushers on almost every corner, completely un-policed. Sometimes 5, sometimes as many as 20 pushers and pimps on a corner which the locals have to walk past. Nigerian girls were trying to stop cars and bikes almost in desperation of picking up a client trying to avoid a beating. It’s a whole other thing to see the girls at work now we know the backdrop of what controls them and drives them towards a ‘hoped for’ liberation.
One girl came over to us, linked arms with me and walked a while under the gaze of her pimp, offerring us many things in the hope of that 15 euro before eventually walking off to some more likely clients. It was a sad moment, one which we will ponder upon for a while to come.
Kids? The same story of Thessoloniki, everyone expects them to be here being used for sex, but nobody knows where. A raid in a brothel some time back freed a whole bunch of male children locked in a brothel being used by men. People know it’s there, but it’s going to take more than our passing through to even begin to uncover it.
We picked up a ‘things to do in Athens’ brochure and were shocked by a section just about sex, with very overt wording of where to get the cheapest girls – that being Nigerians. It also tells the reader what they should expect to pay in a brothel for ‘clean’ girls and more surprisingly, where you are likely to find your more unpleasant tastes for sex met. This includes transexuals and male prostitutes, mostly used again, by married men.
The degree to the normalised of paying sex is quite shocking for modern Europe. The variety in types available in overt and public spaces confirms that what takes place illegally behind closed doors must be pretty gruesome and should be exposed. This is All exploitation of people. Whether it comes through cultural or economic erosion of a persons worth for prostitution, or whether it has come through brutilisation, kidnapping and torture of the trafficking victims who make up most of the girls in this city. It’s just plain nasty robbing of a persons worth and humanity. Nobody, and i mean nobody, WANTS to service 100 smelly sweaty men. Nobody wants to be put in a room where a man will walk in and say do this or that, because the pimp has told him he can do anything to you except kill you.
This is a bit of a long blog, mostly because we want to get some stuff off our chest before we go quiet for a few days travelling to Italy. It’s been a privilege meeting here with great people, so frequently poorly supported. The team here are engaged in victim identification, an arm of trafficking care which seeks to find out who someone is through face to face interaction. They seek to know a persons name, draw out some of their stories, and be a mirror which reflects back to the girls that they are human, that they have worth and that someone gives a crap.
Remember us as we leave here, the farmers are on strike and blocking all major roads, like the one to our port and sailing point of Patra.