Greek sex workers’ rates fall to record low – study

© Leonhard Foeger
Greece’s debt crisis has affected each and every area of the country’s economic activity, including the sex industry, resulting in young Greek women selling their services for the lowest price in Europe.

Following almost six years of crisis, sex workers have had to dramatically cut prices, driving central and eastern European women who used to dominate the industry out of business, a three-year study compiling data on more than 17,000 sex workers shows.

Before the crisis hit the country, the average price for sex with a prostitute was €50 ($53). Today, it has plummeted to as low as €2 ($2.12) for thirty minutes. With the unemployment level reaching almost 60 percent, more and more women are joining the industry, raising more than €600 million (almost $638) annually.

“Some women just do it for a cheese pie, or a sandwich they need to eat because they are hungry,” Gregory Lazos, a professor of sociology at Panteion University in Athens and lead author of the research, told the London Times newspaper. “Others [do it] to pay taxes, bills, for urgent expenses or a quick [drug] fix.”

The number of sex workers living on the edge seems to be on the rise, Lazos said. The professor is known for a number of publications on the subject, including two volumes specifically dedicated to prostitution in Greece.

“Most worrying,” he told the Times, “is it doesn’t look like these numbers will fade; rather they are growing at a steady and consistent pace.”

The prices for sex are falling not only in Greece, but all over the world as well, reportedly caused by the internet giving access to adult content. However, the average price of a one-hour encounter in Europe is €255 ($271). Broadly speaking, the prices in Greece are fifty times lower than on average on the continent.

“Factor in the growing number of girls who drift in and out of the trade, depending on their needs, and the total number of female prostitutes is startling,” Mr Lazos said. “Greek women now dominate 80 percent of the trade.”

Prostitution is legal in Greece, but only 10 brothels in the country actually have a license, meaning women have no other choice but to go to the streets or private dens.

“State authorities, police and health officials must finally act rather than continuing to remain indifferent,” Lazos concluded.

Greece has been struggling with financial crisis since late 2009. After numerous rounds of negotiations, the Greek government introduced a number of austerity measures required for bailout. These have turned out to be a serious blow to the more vulnerable sectors of the population.