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Refugees forced into sex work to survive

Meka Beresford June 8, 2016

Male asylum seekers are turning to prostitution to survive in Greece, a new report has found.

Refugees fleeing from war in Afghanistan and Syria are being forced into sex work as a means to survive, after becoming stranded in Greek cities.

(Photo by Alexander Koerner/Getty Images)

According to the Global Post, thousands of migrants heading to Northern Europe have been forced to stay in Greece because of temporary border controls to limit the flow of people.

Germany and Sweden are the most popular final destination for many refugees but their systems are under strain with the sudden influx of people.

Prostitution is used by many as a survival tactic to get through difficult financial times. It is legal in Greece but only if it takes place in registered brothels.

Many of these refugees have no legal way to work in the country and turn to sex work to feed themselves and their families.

Red light districts, bars and clubs around the country are seeing an influx of men selling their bodies for around 10 euros.

The maximum charge can fetch 30 euros but often men get so desperate they are paid as little as 2 euros because they are too ashamed to ask for money.

Many migrants see no escape from their current situation because they are considered economic migrants, rather than refugees. This is especially true for people from Afghanistan.

Abdullah [not his real name] is an Afghanistan migrant stranded in Greece. He arrived in Athens with just 20 cents and within a week he was selling sex in Pedion Tou Areos, the main public park in Athens, to survive.

He said: “I got angry. I had just arrived, and I had to do this just to get some money.”

Abdullah stayed in the park, which he described as dirty, for seven hours before deciding to have sex with one of the many men who had approached him for 20 euros.

“I didn’t have any money. You can sell drugs, sell sex or work for smugglers to find customers. There was no other way for me.” He added. “We had only one hope, that the border was open, and now it’s closed. I don’t have money to go anywhere. I don’t know what to do.”

More: Europe, Greece, Greece, LGBT, prostitution, Queer, refugee, sex work, Syria

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