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Trafficking in Women and Children:
Greece, a country of destination and transit

CONCLUSION

The situation described in this paper shows that trafficking is a violation of fundamental human rights. Women and children trafficked are not only economically exploited, but are also subjected to sexual abuse, violence, maltreatment and other violations. The human rights of women include the right to have control over, and decide freely on, matters relating to their sexuality, including sexual and reproductive health - free of coercion, discrimination and violence. Trafficking in women for sexual purposes and in children for the commercial sex industry or for forced labour as beggars (and often both) is a serious abuse of their human rights. The united Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child considers that trafficking in children is exploitative and a violation of their human rights. A struggle is needed in order to deal with the miserable reality, to abolish the factors creating trafficking in women and children.238

Thousands of women and children today live in EU countries under conditions of real slavery, sexual exploitation and degradation. If there exists a social area in modern Europe where the meaning of human rights has lost its significance, it is the area where women and under-age girls and boys are victims of trafficking, Young foreign immigrants, including children who are prostituted by force, suffer new forms of violence and financial exploitation. New systems of indentured labour generate large benefits for agents, procurers, customers and for governments in the countries of origin who are keen to earn foreign exchange. The findings regarding the extent of violence hidden behind trafficking in women and children are tragic. The unfortunate women who left their homeland either with the hope of a better future or who were deceived, misled or worse still who fell victims of kidnapping, live a day nightmare. At 35 years, if they survive, they are old. This situation constitutes the violation of elementary rights of mankind in the modern slave markets.

The ever-increasing collapse of values, with the sole pseudo-value being money, contributes to the continuing and increasing participation of degraded procurers, the depraved employees and the corrupted officials. The turnover from trafficking for prostitution tends to be equivalent to the drugs trade. In many cases, the corruption of police and administration officials is an important factor rendering ineffective the legislation against trafficking in women and children.

There is always a gap between law on the statute books and law in practice. Legally binding commitments are not always respected in practice. Greece and the South European countries present more problems of law enforcement within the EU.

A trafficked person must be treated not as a criminal but as a fully empowered human being. It is important that any attempt to curb trafficking addresses not only law enforcement and immigration authorities, but the need to educate women - particularly young women and those who are economically vulnerable. Those initiatives must be coupled with economic initiatives that provide women and girls at risk with viable alternatives so that they can sustain themselves and their families.

Important also is the role of the clients, whose number has greatly increased in recent years, because without the latter there would be no trafficking in women and children. The clients who receive these services bear a great responsibility: while they are aware of the infringement of human rights and the ill-treatment of these women by procurers, with their participation they are partners in the crime of violence.

The costs for victims, their families, the support systems and societies in the country of origin, transit and destination is enormous. This cost is not only high but it cannot be assessed in money: e.g. the families of the victims are under threat, their siblings may have the same fate. The repercussions on the physical and mental health of the victims of trafficking are serious. The victims of trafficking may have contracted AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases, abortion complications and other health problems such as hepatitis, tuberculosis, etc. while suicide is common among this group of human beings. Although some trafficked women and children have health certificates showing that they have undergone tests for AIDS which proved negative, in reality many are HIV positive. This state of affairs has a negative impact on public health.

After a period of callous exploitation, some women manage to save up money from their work. There are also cases of women who have learned the skill of luring others to follow in their footsteps.

Greek legislation and judicial practice concerning the phenomenon of trafficking in women and children for prostitution is ineffective and unfair. There are light penalties for the procurers and other intermediaries who often remain unpunished; if they reach the courts, the sentences imposed on them are insignificant. Immigrant women, on the other hand, are punished by justice, administration and society with not only penal sanctions, but deportation and stigmatising as well. Greater priority must be placed on weakening the scope of organised crime, rather than on punishing the actions of victimised women.

The problem of trafficking in women and minors, girls and boys, with the purpose of leading them to prostitution, is a complex one, besides being an offence against human dignity. The violence and exploitation of these human beings is often over a sustained period of time and is far worse than the exploitation of other illegal immigrants. The problem is indeed complicated and has ramifications on a world wide level and is continually changing while certain of its many facets remain secret.

Public opinion is particularly sensitive about trafficking and sexual exploitation of minors, afraid for its own children, and desiring the immediate solution of this issue. All women's organisations should express, in various ways, their solidarity and their backing to these women victims of this contemporary barbarity. This has been done already in Greece by the League for Women's Rights, the Feminist Initiative Against Forced Prostitution of Alien Women, by the free Movement of Women242 and others as well as by NGOs (e.g. organisations for human rights, antiracism organisations etc.). It is also important to denounce state and private mechanisms that compel alien women to become prostitutes as well as denounce their clients who take advantage of this barbarous trade.

The societies of the countries of origin, transit and destination tolerate the existence of the modern slave trade with the help of corrupt policemen, administrators and even politicians. Are they considering agreements condemning trafficking and the new forms of slavery signed by Governments "wishfull thinking?"

How longer will the civilised world tolerate modern slavery which enriches the mafia? The economic and social situation and the position of women in their home country must be improved. The measures taken to combat trafficking and corruption are ineffective, urgent steps must be taken, not only for reasons of public order and security but also for humanitarian reasons.