Istanbul, December 8th, 2009
Dear friends and comrades,
First of all, we would like to thank you for your invitation.
For us, it is very important to be with you, know you and take part in this significant meeting.
Our organization, Non-Aligned Women’s Movement (NAWM), was established in 1983 by a group of feminists being anxious about the women’s position. We started with prostitution as central point, which has never been analyzed or discussed over before in the Hellenic conservative society and also was a taboo for the eldest part of the Movement
Then, prostitution in Greece was under a system of arrangement.
We worked for one year in the anti-venereal centre where prostitutes were examined twice a week. We collaborated with them and carried out two researches. One among the prostitutes (on a sample of the 80% of prostitutes registered in Athens) and another research over the population by means of 1,000 questionnaires. The results of our job were presented on panels in the United Nations congress held in Nairobi in 1985.
Since 1985 and then we issued a newspaper, propaganda sheets, published articles in order to sensitize the public so as to put an end to prostitution, considering always that prostitution is against the women’s human rights and constitutes a marginal form of violence.
After 1987 we collaborated with the Research Centre of Women’s Affairs (RCWA) on the same issue and up to this day our collaboration keeps being unalterable and constructive.
In the late eighties we participated in the protest campaign for the conviction of feminists of the Norwegian Women’s Front because of their struggle against sex tourism, by sending a letter to the court of Oslo and making representations to the Norwegian Embassy of Athens.
Since 1988 the phenomenon of prostitution has changed its form. We discovered the trafficking of women coming from third world countries, which in our point of view will be increased by geometrical progression in the forthcoming years. Greece, because of its geological and political position, is a country for the destination, trafficking of people and a gate towards Europe. The insular land of Greece is full of camps and meant for tourism, and it is situated near Turkey, another country of large trafficking as well.
The phenomenon grew alarmingly and we made efforts to be in contact with other organizations of abroad to join our forces so as to deal with it.
So, in 1991 we took part in the congress of Amsterdam, which has been organized by the Dutch STV network, stressing our contradiction with the segregation of prostitution from trafficking and asking to organize ourselves in order to abolish prostitution.
That collaboration produced nothing, because the majority of the congress talked only about trafficking and not abolishment of prostitution.
Our activity continued inland and it was difficult because we had to cope with the conservatism of people but, in many cases, with the negation of women’s organizations.
In 1995 we presented such issue to panels in the framework of the ONU congress held in Beijing. Articles and propaganda sheets were distributed.
In 1996, the Secretariat General for the equality between the two sexes of the national Ministry of the Interior invited us to participate in the creation of the National Exposition for the Vienna Congress.
Since 1995 we made contacts with emigration organizations in Germany and England, and in 1998, along with RCWA, we elaborated the European Union Daphne program for the fighting of the trafficking of women for sexual exploitation. Such programme gave us the opportunity to elaborate a study on trafficking throughout Greece, Germany and the United Kingdom with the abovementioned emigration organizations, with whom we keep collaborating and we often see each other in common struggles.
In 1998 we took part in the establishment of MAPP in Paris for the abolishment of each and every form of prostitution and pornography and the implementation of the ONU’s international treaties to this effect.
In our opinion, the implementation of such treaties in our country and their «transformation» into internal law would have caused the respective measures for the provision and readmission of the women prostituted, as well as the penal punishment of procurers and clients.
In 1999, by virtue of law 2734/99, prostitution in Greece became profession.
We do not make any reference to such law, we only mention article 3.
«The Municipalities determine the licenses on the basis of the particular local conditions that is the existence of camps, ports and harbors, and industrial units as well as on the basis of the development of commercial and other activities which are imposed by the employment or the passing through of people coming from other countries».
The protests were strong. But, the movement in Greece was splitted. There was a part of the movement pretending that prostitution is a profession and considering it as a women’s choice. Nineties was the decade of big changes with regard to women’s trafficking and sexual exploitation.
By the end of the abovementioned decade, the ordinary Greek man’s conscience is extremely familiarized with such phenomenon with full acceptance and use of sexual services, and the ordinary Greek woman’s conscience is her bothering and nuisance generated by the results of such phenomenon, which more concretely concern her. Increase of interfamily violence, increase of venereal diseases and dissolution of families.
The city daily press up to this day is being inundated with ‘pink’ advertisements and telephone sex networks.
The State, after the outcry raised, is obligated to bring a law against trafficking law 3064/2002. And here is the huge contradiction. Although exists law 2734 which legalizes prostitution, at the same time, law 3064 penalizes only the constraint to prostitution. That means it prosecutes only procurers. However, if an employer-procurer certifies by means of the legalization proceedings the newly inserted woman as prostitute, the release of the practice of prostitution in various places creates substantially a phenomenal combination of the sex industry development, as long as the constraint is difficult even unreal to prove.
NAWM in collaboration with the Hellenic Feminist Network “TELESILLA”, in each issue, publishes informative articles and also translates articles written by feminists well-known of the international movement (Janice Raymond, Malka Markovic, Gunilla Ekberg…). At the same time, it makes presentations on the radio and TV and travels all around Greece in an effort to inform people.
And then the crowning events of 2003 came.
In May 2003 a member of NAWM reveals the minutes of the Municipality of Athens asking for the expansion of law about prostitution and for the increase of brothels in view of the Olympic Games as per the patterns of Sidney.
By the end of May 2003 members of NAWM denounce the Municipality of Athens in the conference organized by the Greek Government about violence and trafficking of women on the occasion of the closure of the Hellenic presidency.
A storm of protests was brought in, the newspapers wrote articles everyday. It should be noted that the mayor was a woman who in the last years has been also foreign minister.
On the initiative of NAWM and RCWA it was held a meeting of national women’s organizations, and committees were formed that visited all the parties asking them not to allow the expansion of the law.
In June 2003, a member of NAWM and RCWA took part in the congress of the ARETUSA network in Reykjavik, Island, asking from the feminists of the attending countries to help in the universal damnation of the Municipality of Athens in order to stop the commencement of a porn-Olympiad.
From this podium we would like to thank once more the comrades-feminists for the uproar they caused and their pressing exercised on their governments for the damnation of the Municipality of Athens and the withdrawal of such bill of law.
As a result of it and of the international uproar caused, seven lady-ministers coming from north countries made representations and protests to the then prime minister of Greece.
On the initiative of a Belgian organization, NAWM was invited to Brussels by Jack Rogg, who stressed that the Olympic Committee did not approve such initiatives. However, Greece carried on. The Municipality of Athens brought the issue to the Hellenic Committee of Municipalities and Communities, which adopted the resolution that the law should be expanded, although the interventions of NAWM who was present in the meeting of such Committee. With the incitement of such Committee, the then vice-minister brought the issue to the Parliament. Solid on that issue the women’s movement made a protest to the Parliament and an end was put to that issue with the negation of the Parliament’s President to introduce the Bill of Law for voting.
The Movement had won.
In 2004 NAWM set off with buses from Athens via Italy with the view of protesting outside the ILO offices in Geneva, against its motion to consider prostitution as a third world women’s work in order to increase the per capita income of those countries. Leaflets in five languages were prepared and distributed by local organizations to Ancona and other Italian cities, and to Geneva also, outside of the ILO offices.
In 2006 we took part in the protest against prostitution during the international cup matches in Berlin.
We translated the ‘Petition of the Coalition against Trafficking in Women’ in Greek, Albanian and Turkish, and distributed it to emigration organizations in Greece, England, Germany, Turkey, and Albania. We also visited the German Ambassador in Athens and we presented him our protest.
On November 25th 2009, for the first time after 26 years, NAWM was called to attend the Committee of Equality and Human Rights in the Hellenic Parliament.
Request of the women’s movement is the abolishment of the law about prostitution. Even if there are laws against trafficking, they cannot work. As long as the law about prostitution exists, the trafficking keeps being legalized. Women get into Greece equipped with a few days visa and they are immediately registered as professional prostitutes. In this way, Greece demonstrates to international expositions that trafficking is decreasing up to its abolishment.
In fact, the women’s trafficking inflates and consolidates its position. Groups of constraint women are installed in Greece coming from Asian or African countries.
We believe that war fights and the expansion of poverty will strengthen such phenomenon. Wars are supported by the war industry of the great powers. The great powers under the pretence of the protection of human rights invade third world countries by increasing this way the women’s torments.
Apart from this, we should mention the great number of brothels and women trafficked near the pacifying armed forces for their ‘servicing’. We show such phenomenon at close range in Kosovo and we denounced it on a pan-European level.
Our steady request is the abolishment of law about prostitution. Prostitution is neither a profession, nor a choice. It is not a solution against the women’s poverty. It is violence, an insult to the human personality, the women’s dignity and the essential human rights.
We ask for the reexamination of all politics, support and reaccession of women, and penalization of clients.
Nowadays the conditions in our country are more favorable. The new lady-minister of justice seems to want to reexamine the law and the struggle is in front of us.
Our main objective is the unification of the women’s and feminist movement and its autonomy and independence as well.
All of us together we will make a good job of it.
We are many, strong and there is solidarity among us.
Non-Aligned Women’s Movement