July 18, 2003 12:00am
Sex Row is a Storm in Teacup, Says Athens Mayor
(ATHENS, GREECE) -- A row over the 2004 Olympics host city's decision to tighten laws regulating prostitution is a storm in a teacup based on a misunderstanding, Athens mayor Dora Bakoyiannis said Friday.
Earlier this month, city authorities came under fire from the powerful Greek Orthodox Church which accused the city of planning to license extra brothels to meet increased demand during next year's games.
"That was a misunderstanding which was cleared up. In Athens as in the rest of Greece there are laws which foresee that you need a license to open this kind of establishment," she told Reuters.
"And what the city of Athens decided was to implement this law, that's all."
She said the church withdrew its criticism after Athens authorities explained the true situation.
Bakoyiannis said the measures were part of her long campaign against the exploitation of women and were not directly linked to the Games.
"As a woman politician who has fought for years against human trafficking in any capacity, I am extremely sensitive to this issue," she said, adding that enforcing long-ignored legislation was one way of tackling the problem.
Some previous Olympic hosts witnessed a boom in the sex industry during the Games with strip clubs and red light districts packed with visitors.
Prostitution and brothels are legal in Greece and prostitutes undergo regular health checks and pay social security.