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Male migrants and asylum seekers in Greece are turning to sex work to survive

2016-06-08
As the European migrant crisis continues, new border rules mean that thousands of migrants and asylum seekers are currently stuck in Greece as they attempt to head to northern Europe. With no money, some of the men have resorted to selling sex in order to survive in Athens, PRI reports. Sex work in Greece is only legal in registered brothels but is common on the streets. The male sex trade has risen as more migrants and asylum seekers find themselves trapped in Greece. Male sex workers were previously made up of men from Albanian, Bulgaria and Romania, but now there has been an increase in the amount of men from the Middle East and South Asia. Sami's bar in Athens has long been known as a place to meet male sex workers, and PRI met with one migrant working there. Hassan (not his real name) had been in Greece for two months after coming from Iran and revealed that that was his second appearance at the bar. PRI explain how a customer sits with him and with the help of a translator eventually agree on a price of €30 (About £23) before leaving together. Brothel Filis Street, Athens, Greece ©Yiorgios Ventouris/IML Image Group PRI also reveals that the men who make frequent appearances at Sami's and other gay cruising spots are often married or in the closet. The standard price for sex in Athens is around €10 (£8) but if customers are willing to wait, they can pay as little as €2 (Around £1.50). According to a translator: "Some of the boys are ashamed to ask for money. They'll only ask you afterwards, and you can pay them if you want to." Another male sex worker, Abdullah (not his real name), explains that he first had sex for money just two weeks after arriving in Athens. PRI reports that he was living at a disused airport with thousands of other Afghan migrants and after a week, he was taken to Pedion tou Areos. "It was a dirty place," Abdullah says. "There were people there using drugs. A lot of strange people." Some of the "strange people" were older men who would approach Abdullah and talk to him. He reveals how his friend explained why they visited the park. "They told me, 'We have sex with these guys, and they pay us.'" He adds: "I had just arrived, and I had to do this just to get some money." Abdullah says that he has previously had sex with boys and girls in Iran but has never done so with "old men." After several hours, however, he agreed to have sex with another man in a wooded area for just €20 (£15). "I didn't have money," he adds. "At the airport, there is no healthy work. You can sell drugs, sell sex or work for smugglers to find customers. There was no other way for me." You can read the full article over at PRI. More stories: Check out all the highlights from Tel Aviv Pride Stephen Fry and Dr Christian slam NHS decision not to fund PrEP