In 2009, Greece suffered an economic crisis – draining the finances of the country and leaving many without government social services. Then in 2015, it became the centre of a humanitarian crisis as large numbers of migrants attempting to enter Europe were left stranded in Greece due to geographical limitations, being trapped in detention centres, or because they were homeless.
Children in need of shelter have nowhere to go.
A new ECPAT Country Overview Report warns that both political and socioeconomic factors affecting Greece have left children – especially unaccompanied child migrants – vulnerable to sexual exploitation. Over-stretched and weak government services and shelters for children sometimes leaves them fending for themselves and more likely to fall into the hands of child sex offenders.
The ECPAT member in Greece, ARSIS Association for the Social Support of Youth are working on the ground with marginalised children and witness the consequences of the overstretched government every day.
The ECPAT report highlights research indicating that some unaccompanied migrant children, particularly boys, have turned to actively engaging in their own sexual exploitation in order to provide food and shelter, or to fund their migration out of Greece. Mobile phones, dating apps and chat platforms allow child sex offenders to have easy, private conversations with children that often lead them into being sexually exploited.
They turn to sexual exploitation to get food and shelter.
“Greece still has a long way to go to in its child protection measures; 94% of unaccompanied minors are boys, yet they are not a prioritised target group in many protection programmes.”
Mark Kavenagh, Head of Research and Policy at ECPAT International
The report also features research showing that foreign tourists seek to exploit migrant children – some making their trip to Greece exclusively to meet them. Despite this, there are limited responses from the government and tourism operators to address the risk of sexual exploitation in travel and tourism. Additionally, the research report was unable to identify any responses by the government to fight this issue.