Thursday, July 24, 2003

English Wire

Denmark accuses Sweden of meddling in Athens' Olympic brothels plans

COPENHAGEN — Denmark on Thursday accused Sweden of meddling in Greek affairs after the Swedes led six other European countries in a protest against Athens' plans to increase the number of brothels during next year's Olympic Games.

"It is childish to fingerwag. Prostitution is legal in Greece and we must respect that," Danish Gender Equality Minister Henrietta Kjaer told news agency Ritzau.

Kjaer was the sole gender equality minister in the Nordic and Baltic states who did not sign Wednesday's protest.

The ministers from Sweden, Norway, Finland, Iceland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania wrote in a statement issued by the Swedish government: "It is with indignation and surprise that we have learned that Greece plans to increase brothel activities during the Olympics in Athens 2004.

"This will lead to more women being exploited and abused," they said.

Prostitution is legal in Greece, but since 1999 has been limited to brothels where a maximum of three people can be employed and which are not close to schools or churches.

Last month, Athens city councillors asked the government to license more brothels during the Olympics when demand was expected to rise sharply.

Athens has justified its request by saying that if illegal brothels begin to comply with regulations and are licensed, then authorities will have better control over the sex trade.

Sweden Gender Equality Minister Margareta Winberg disagreed however.

"It has been proven in other places that legalising prostitution leads to an increase in illegal prostitution. If prostitution becomes a normal part of everyday life, demand grows and then the legal brothels are not sufficient," she said Thursday.

"One consequence can be that you then have to 'import' women and then people smuggling increases," she added.

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Created: January 8, 2004
Last modified: January 15, 2004
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