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Human Trafficking & Modern-day Slavery

Poverty drives the unsuspecting poor into the hands of traffickers

Published reports & articles from 2000 to 2025                            

Republic of Greece

Greece has a capitalist economy with the public sector accounting for about 40% of GDP and with per capita GDP about two-thirds that of the leading euro-zone economies. Tourism provides 15% of GDP. Immigrants make up nearly one-fifth of the work force, mainly in agricultural and unskilled jobs.

Public debt, inflation, and unemployment are above the euro-zone average, but are falling.  [The World Factbook, U.S.C.I.A. 2009]

Description: Description: Description: Description: Greece

Greece is a destination and transit country for women and children trafficked for the purpose of sexual exploitation and for men and children trafficked for the purpose for forced labor. … One NGO reported that there were many teenage male sex trafficking victims from Afghanistan and sub-Saharan Africa in Greece. … Child labor trafficking victims were subjected to forced begging and forced to engage in petty crimes. - U.S. State Dept Trafficking in Persons Report, June, 2009   Check out a later country report here or a full TIP Report here


CAUTION:  The following links have been culled from the web to illuminate the situation in Greece.  Some of these links may lead to websites that present allegations that are unsubstantiated or even false.  No attempt has been made to validate their authenticity or to verify their content.



If you are looking for material to use in a term-paper, you are advised to scan the postings on this page and others to see which aspects of Human Trafficking are of particular interest to you.  Would you like to write about Forced-Labor?  Debt Bondage? Prostitution? Forced Begging? Child Soldiers? Sale of Organs? etc.  On the other hand, you might choose to include precursors of trafficking such as poverty and hunger. There is a lot to the subject of Trafficking.  Scan other countries as well.  Draw comparisons between activity in adjacent countries and/or regions.  Meanwhile, check out some of the Term-Paper resources that are available on-line.


Check out some of the Resources for Teachers attached to this website.

HELP for Victims

National Center for Emergency Social Assistance
Country code: 30-



IHF-HR: "A Form of Slavery: Trafficking in Women in OSCE Member States" - Country Reports - GREECE

International Helsinki Federation For Human Rights IHF-HR, July 2000

[accessed 7 February 2011]

[accessed 29 January 2018]

Regarding the coercion of victims, the following methods were uncovered:

o    Their documents are kept in order to stop them from escaping.

o    They are often raped, kept without food or water or unable to use the toilet in order to make them more “willing to cooperate”.  

o    If they come from religious families, offenders threaten to tell the victims’ parents or relatives, even videotapes are secretly made for the purpose of blackmail.

There are seldom injuries or beating that could “spoil” the future exploitation of the woman. Often, women are forced to see over fifty “customers” per day, to the extent that they lose a sense of time and space and lose consciousness. Recently, a thirteen-year-old girl managed to get to the police and escape her imprisonment and torture. She had been brought illegally and forcefully from Albania in order to work as a prostitute. She had been imprisoned for six months.


*** ARCHIVES ***

2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Greece

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, 30 March 2021

[accessed 7 June 2021]


There were reports of forced labor of women, children, and men, mostly in the agricultural sector. Forced begging (see section 7.c., Prohibition of Child Labor and Minimum Age for Employment) mostly occurred in metropolitan areas and populous islands, focusing on popular metro stations, squares, and meeting places. Penalties for violations were commensurate to those of other serious crimes, but victims seldom reported violations.

Agricultural workers at Manolada in Ilia, Peloponnese, reported on April 1 that they had to live in makeshift huts for 10 to 20 persons, that were covered with layers of nylon, without running water, and had showers and toilets placed outside, according to the Manolada Watch initiative launched by the NGO Generation 2.0 for Rights, Equality & Diversity, to monitor the living and working conditions of migrants workers.


Child labor was a problem in the informal economy. Younger family members often assisted families in agriculture, food service, and merchandising on at least a part-time basis. Family members compelled some children to beg, pick pockets, or sell merchandise on the street, or trafficked them for the same purposes. The government and NGOs reported the majority were indigenous Roma, Bulgarian, Romanian, or Albanian Roma. The pandemic caused fewer street children in Thessaloniki to “work,” the NGO ARSIS reported on June 12. For example, ARSIS estimated that approximately 50 children were working in the streets from January to April, as opposed to 189 children during the same period in 2019. There were reports unaccompanied migrant children were particularly vulnerable to labor exploitation and worked mainly in the agricultural and, to a lesser extent, manufacturing sectors.

Freedom House Country Report

2020 Edition

[accessed 8 July 2020]


Most residents enjoy legal protections against exploitative working conditions, but labor laws are not always adequately enforced. Migrants and asylum seekers are especially vulnerable to trafficking for forced labor or sexual exploitation, and government efforts to combat the problem, while increasing, remain insufficient, according to the US State Department. The Greek cabinet approved an increase in the minimum wage to 650 euros in January, up by 11 percent.

I was sold into sexual slavery

Elizabeth Day, The Observer, 18 January 2015

[accessed 18 January 2015]

On holiday in Greece as a 14-year-old, Megan Stephens fell in love. But her boyfriend turned out to be a pimp who trafficked her for six years. She tells her story to Elizabeth Day.

Megan’s story is a horrifying one. It is a story of how a vulnerable teenage girl on holiday in Greece with her mother was trafficked into the sex industry and spent six years as a prostitute – in brothels, on the streets, in dingy hotel rooms – before finally making her escape from a life of relentless physical and sexual abuse. It is horrifying not only because of the sadistic violence she endured, but also because of how easily she seemed to slip into this spiral of depravity and how difficult she found it to get out.

Human Trafficking Scheme from Bulgaria Busted in Greece

Sofia News Agency, August 16, 2012

[accessed 17 August 2012]

Police in Greece have cracked a network for human trafficking from Bulgaria, in which Bulgarians were forced to beg.

The undisclosed number of Bulgarians were held in an apartment in the central Greek city of Larissa.

The Bulgarians were among the country's poor, and were lured with promises for work in Greece.   After that, they were forcefully held, were made to beg in various European countries, and were severely beaten at each attempt to escape.

Greek police discovered the network, after a 58-year-old male Bulgarian was hospitalized after being abandoned outside the city following such a beating.

Major human trafficking ring busted in nationwide sweep

Athens News Agency - Macedonian Press Agency ANA-MPA, Feb-02-2009

[accessed 30 August 2011]

[accessed 29 January 2018]

The women coming to Greece from abroad were picked up at Athens airport and installed in an Athens apartment with promises that they would be made legal residents in exchange for an exorbitant fee.

They were then imprisoned in the apartment by members of the ring until they had payed off their so-called debts, sleeping 12 to a room and paying five euros a day in rent, one euro to use cold water, two euros for hot water and five euros to wash their clothes.

Several of them were sent to work in bars and strip clubs in Karditsa and Florina, for which the ring received a one-off payment for their "sale" to the club owners, who then kept all the money that they earned. In order to force them into prostitution or other sexual acts with clients, they were beaten and threatened.

Human trafficking a Games pitfall, researcher warns

The Vancouver Sun, November 2, 2007

[accessed 7 February 2011]

[accessed 28 April 2020]

In its report, the Future Group said German authorities employed a coordinated effort to combat human trafficking related to an increased demand for prostitution during the 2006 World Cup of soccer. It involved public education, cooperation with social agencies and tight border controls. In the end, while officials did see an increase in prostitution, they did not detect a rise in trafficking.

However, in Greece, in 2004 -- the same year the country hosted the summer Olympics -- the country did not adopt measures that were as strong and a 95-per-cent increase in human-trafficking cases was recorded.

Human trafficking ring busted

Reuters, Athens, July 9, 2007

[accessed 7 February 2011]

[accessed 5 June 2017]

"Greek security forces uncovered members of an international criminal group that has been operating for the last two years," Greek police security chief Drossos Bougoudis told reporters.  "They were trafficking women from eastern Europe and Balkans," he said.  Three Ukrainian women, held against their will in an Athens apartment, were freed and now in safe hands, police said.

"Members of the gang were luring women from these regions promising them legal work and were keeping them in several apartments in Athens," Bougoudis said.

Agencies involved in human trafficking, says expert

Xinhua News Agency, November 14, 2006

[accessed 7 February 2011]

Journalist Pavlos Nerantzis told a seminar on "Trafficking in Human Beings" held in Thessaloniki on Monday, that human trafficking rings had changed their mode of operation, enlisting travel agencies to handle the issue of necessary travel documents for women wishing to come to Greece or go to other countries, Athens News Agency reported.

He added that as soon as these victims reached their destination, the travel documents were taken away from them and they were led to prostitution.

Joint police operation in SE European countries targets human trafficking

Xinhua News Agency, October 03, 2006

[accessed 7 February 2011]

A simultaneous police operation in Greece and other southeast European countries led to discovery and rescue of more than 460 young women, all reportedly victims of human trafficking, Athens News Agency reported on Monday.

Children of the Stoplights

Discarded Lies, January 14, 2005

[accessed 7 February 2011]

[accessed 29 January 2018]

The Greek government estimates that there are some 3,000 unaccompanied Albanian children in the country, with more coming during the summer months. In oral evidence about the trafficking of Albanian children to Greece, given to the Commission on Human Rights, Terre des Hommes representative Eylay Kadjar-Hamouda said, “A child earns a minimum of €30-€50 per day and gives all the money to his boss. A very small percentage is sent back to his family in Albania but in a very irregular way.

Greek Police Dismantle International Human Trafficking Ring

Xinhua News Agency, Athens, Feb. 18, 2005

[accessed 7 February 2011]

The ring sought out young women and undertook to provide them with travel documents, promising them legitimate work as baby-sitters, domestic help or waitresses once they arrived in Greece.

Trafficking of Migrant Women for Forced Prostitution into Greece

Human Rights Watch Backgrounder

[accessed 7 February 2011]

Despite widespread acknowledgment that trafficking of human beings for the purpose of forced prostitution has escalated dramatically in recent years, the government of Greece has failed to address this problem. Greece has failed to take action to prevent trafficking, to protect the victims of trafficking, and to prosecute the traffickers. Moreover, efforts to identify and prosecute law enforcement and other officials complicit in trafficking are inadequate.

Child Trafficking Between Albania And Greece

Stop Child Trafficking, 01. 06. 2005

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 5 September 2011]

For the last three years, the Swiss Foundation, Terre des hommes, has been fighting against the trafficking of children from poor villages around Elbasan and Korca in Albania to Greece. The traffickers force the children to beg in tourist places in Greece.

Joint East West Research Project On Trafficking In Children For Sexual Purposes In Europe: The Sending Countries - Albania Report January 2004 [PDF]

Compiled by Alma Maksutaj, Programme Coordinator, Albania Report, January 2004

[accessed 29 August 2014]

[accessed 5 February 2019]

[page 31]  CASE NO 3 - Elixhena T. has denounced a young couple as her traffickers. They made me a beggar in Athens.

“In the summer of 1998, I ended up in the hands of a young married couple, - says the girl – and in few days I was in Greece. At the beginning they beat me by saying that I had to beg on the streets and in this way I could help my family. I didn’t agree but they put me in the street”. The girl declared that she begged every day in the centre of Athens, so she knew and was known to many people, especially those who gave her money. The girl said that during this time she didn’t lose contact with her family.

New Fight to Stop Sex Trade

Kathy Tzilivakis, Athens News Agency, 9 April 2009

[accessed 7 February 2011]

Thousands of migrant women and girls as young as 12 are trafficked to Greece and sold into forced prostitution each year. They are the ill-fated pawns in one of the most profitable organised criminal activities in the world, after the illicit trade of drugs and guns. Many of the women have been lured to Greece under false pretences. They were promised a better life here, a well-paid job as a waitress or a maid, but were deceived. Once in the country, they were beaten, raped and traded like a commodity.

Psychologically crushed into suppression and stripped of their passports by ruthless pimps and owners of brothels, strip clubs and seedy massage parlours, these women and girls are forced to "work off" exorbitant debts owed to traffickers. As many as 20,000 women, including 1,000 girls between the ages of 13 and 15, have been sold so far into Greece's alarmingly booming sex trade industry for thousands of euros each. They are mainly from the Balkans and countries of the former Soviet Union.

East European prostitutes find haven in Greece

Didier Kunz, Agence France-Presse AFP, Athens, 30-Oct-2003

[accessed 7 February 2011]

[accessed 29 January 2018]

[scroll down]

The hostel looks ordinary enough -- four bedrooms, a television room, a work room with two computers, a kitchen and a bathroom located above a charity medical centre in a run-down district of the Greek capital.  But 15 Michalis Boda Street, Athens, opened on October 24, is the first shelter in Greece for east Europeans lured by human traffickers into prostitution and there are security guards on the door to prevent pimps sinking their claws back into their prey.

Additional measures taken by the Greek Ministry of Public Order and the Greek Police

Hellenic Republic, Ministry of Foreign Affairs

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 5 September 2011]

OKEA has contributed to the mobilization of relevant NGO's and governmental agencies to take appropriate action in combating human trafficking, especially within the framework of the Greek Presidency. Combating human trafficking is a priority for all Greek police services. The Police Headquarters is actively involved with the Department of Public Safety, whose director is a member of OKEA. Three officers have been assigned to deal specifically with issues of human trafficking and to provide guidance to the regional police services. Special anti-trafficking squads in the Public Safety Divisions of Athens and Thessaloniki will start operations by the end of October 2003.

Campaign against sex slavery

Kathimerini, English Edition, June 27, 2002

[accessed 7 February 2011]

[accessed 5 February 2019]

The turnover from the exploitation of women and children forced into prostitution in Greece has come to an astronomical 6 billion euros over the last 10 years, an academic who has studied the subject said yesterday.  The decade of 1990-2000 showed a great increase in the problem of forced prostitution, with an estimated 75,500 women and children victims, said Grigoris Lazos, a sociologist and criminologist at Panteion University.

Sex slaves' refuge - Greece's first-ever shelter for victims of human trafficking is launched in Athens

Greece Now

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 5 September 2011]

The fight against human trafficking in Greece received a tentative boost last month after the launch of the country’s first shelter for victims of human trafficking. Thousands of women from the former Eastern European bloc are trapped in sex trade networks and forced into prostitution in brothels around Europe.  “We’re not dealing with illegal prostitution but female slaves,” said Nikitas Kanakis, president of the Greek Medecins du Monde (MDM). “The shelter is the first step for a new beginning for these women,” he added.

The chronicle of shame

Fotini Kalliri, Kathimerini, English Edition, December 27, 2001

[accessed 7 February 2011]

[accessed 5 February 2019]

 [scroll down to THE CHRONICLE OF SHAME]

NADIA FROM KIEV - Twenty-two-year-old Nadia from Kiev had supported herself as a dancer during the difficult years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, having studied classical ballet as a child. As a member of a dance troupe, she visited Greece twice on a group tourist visa.  In 2000, she received a solo job offer in this country through the same Ukrainian agent with whom she had collaborated before. On her arrival, she was met by the Greek club owner.

She received a rude shock when she realized that in reality, her employer had bought her. He took her passport, locked her in her room, deprived her of food, and beat her to make her realize that her survival depended on him from then on. Her treatment became even harsher as her legal period of residence in Greece drew to a close. He demanded that she prostitute herself. After eight months in Greece, she was arrested by the police during a chance sweep, and deported. At the first train station inside Bulgaria, the Bulgarian mafia boarded the train and kidnapped Nadia, along with another six women. She was prostituted again, this time in Karditsa, again by force and fed with drugs.

Sex slavery warriors - Athens conference highlights the plight of Eastern European women and minors trapped in international sex trade rings

Greece Now

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 5 September 2011]

The most common way ‘sex slaves’ are trapped is by responding to newspaper advertisements for a job in a European country as a maid or a baby sitter – no documents or passport required. They usually end up as hostages of organised crime gangs forced into prostitution to the tune of an average of 12,000 men annually. Under the threat of bodily harm to themselves and their family back home, most women are forced to comply, while passports are withheld by organised prostitution circuits for ‘safekeeping’.

THE DECISION TO ACT - In Greece there are an estimated 30,00 trafficking victims who stay for an average of two years before being passed on to another European country.

VICTIMS NOT CRIMINALS - But women fortunate enough to escape their captors sometimes do so only temporarily. “Many women are pursued by gangs again and sent back to Greece,’ Kanakis said. NGOs are strengthening ties with victims’ embassies to facilitate their repatriation and obtain necessary documents.

Russia battles its sex trade - An unprecedented media and civic campaign to warn rural girls starts today

Fred Weir, Special to The Christian Science Monitor, 16 May 2001

[accessed 30 August 2012]

Lena, a Russian woman in her 20s, still remembers the friendly middle-aged woman who spun a tale of her own daughter going abroad and sending cash home to her mother. Lena leapt at the chance to go to Greece as a maid.   But the day Lena arrived, her employers seized her passport, beat her, and forced her to work as a prostitute.   A year later, back in Russia, Lena says she is filled with anger and shame, but is going public with her ordeal for the sake of an estimated 50,000 Russian women who are lured into sexual slavery abroad each year by fake job offers.

East European Women Trapped In Sex Slavery

Irina Sandul, The Washington Times, March 11, 2001

[accessed 7 February 2011]

POLICE CAN'T BE TRUSTED - Usually the women are forced to stay in the brothels, often behind barred windows.  Sometimes a woman finds a client who will help her escape, Mrs. Shvab said. "But we do not recommend [that the women] contact police. Authorities in Greece advise them to contact the office of a public prosecutor because the police are corrupt. Often, they themselves are [brothel] clients."

Concluding Observations Of The Committee On The Rights Of The Child (CRC) - 2002

UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, 1 February 2002

[accessed 7 February 2011]

[76] Welcoming the State party’s recent bill in this regard, the Committee remains concerned:

(b) At reports of children being trafficked into, and sometimes through, the State party for, inter alia, sexual exploitation;


Human Rights Reports » 2005 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 8, 2006

[accessed 9 February 2020]

TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS – According to an academic observer, trafficking in women and children for sexual exploitation in the country decreased from approximately 20 thousand victims in 2003 to approximately 10 thousand during the year. Unofficial NGO estimates placed approximately 13 thousand to 14 thousand trafficked persons in the country at any given time.

Trafficking of children was a problem. Most child trafficking victims were Albanian Romani children trafficked for labor exploitation or teenage girls trafficked for commercial sexual exploitation. Albanian children made up the majority of children trafficked for forced labor, begging, and stealing. NGOs reported that the practice of "renting" children had dramatically decreased as it became easier for Albanian parents to emigrate to the country. An NGO working on child-trafficking problems reported that some legalized and illegal Albanian immigrants residing in the country exploited their children.

Women and children arrived as "tourists" or illegal immigrants and were lured into prostitution by club owners who threatened them with deportation. There were reports that traffickers kidnapped victims, including minors, from their homes abroad and smuggled them into the country, where they were sold to local procurers. Traffickers less frequently confined victims to apartments, hotels, and clubs against their will, failed to register them with authorities, and forced them to surrender their passports. Some rescued victims reported being given small stipends, mobile phones, and limited freedoms but nevertheless were coerced, threatened, and abused by their traffickers.

All material used herein reproduced under the fair use exception of 17 USC § 107 for noncommercial, nonprofit, and educational use.  PLEASE RESPECT COPYRIGHTS OF COMPONENT ARTICLES.  Cite this webpage as: Patt, Prof. Martin, "Human Trafficking & Modern-day Slavery - Greece",, [accessed <date>]