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Albanians muscling in on Greek prostitutes


'Albanian men are raiding their own country'

July 4, 1997
Web posted at: 11:08 p.m. EDT (0308 GMT)

From Reporter Anthee Carassava

ATHENS, Greece (CNN) -- Prostitution, sometimes called the world's oldest trade, is booming in Greece, and a lot of prostitutes aren't happy about it.

Researchers from the University of Pandios say at least 10,000 prostitutes work the streets of Athens, a city whose seamier districts house 500 brothels and attract more than a million people a year for sex.

What bothers many Greek prostitutes is that they no longer dominate the business.

According to the study, Albanian prostitutes, many of them minors, have inundated the market, offering visits called "three-minute tingling thrills" for half of what Greek prostitutes charge. (And, researchers add, without practicing safe sex.)

"They're ruining our business," says a prostitute named Marilena. "We should chase them away."

Instead of chasing the newcomers away, Greek prostitutes are themselves on the run. They say tough Albanian pimps use terror and brutality to chase them away from their corners.

"They send 10 thugs to clobber and rape you if you don't give up your corner to their girls," says a Greek prostitute named Sophia, who claims it happened to her.

girl on street

'Albanian men are raiding their own country'

Most Albanian prostitutes operate from seedy hotels, reportedly servicing numerous customers an hour at $12 a visit.

Greek authorities say the surge in prostitution is the result of Albania's unrest. Desperate refugees say they resorted to prostitution after losing everything when several pyramid schemes collapsed, plunging the country into anarchy. A general election there is aimed at restoring order.

But the university study suggests that most Albanians on the streets were forced there by pimps cashing in on the crisis.

"Albanian men are raiding their own country," says Professor Gregory Lozos, a sociologist at the university. "Whatever they find, girls or boys, they bring to Greece."

Such findings have sent shock waves across Greece, fanning a media frenzy about child and adult prostitution.

Police and vice squads have responded by sweeping the streets, rounding up scores of illegal Albanians each day and sending them home. But in no time, officials say, the Albanians sneak back over the frontier and go back to work.


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