The president of the Association of Extradited Persons of Greece and owner of the famous brothel “To Bordello tis Ellis,” Elli Kanellopoulou, explained to GRTimes that 90% of sex workers are currently hungry due to COVID-19 lockdowns.
She even says that brothels, which have been irreparably affected, could work following a series of measures for the COVID-19 crisis.
She emphasises that prostitution has been irreparably affected, not because it has not been supported as much as the other professions, but because only 10% of women have a license to legally work.
“The other 90% are in undeclared work. Not because they do not want to, but because it is not allowed,” she revealed.
“A few months ago we went to the Ministry of Civil Protection to demand a change in the law,” Kanellopoulou said.
90% of sex workers are not working legally, meaning that in the midst of a pandemic, they live on zero income for about 3 months as there is a night curfew in force, making work impossible.
Kanellopoulou said she is against street prostitution, as in her position as a representative of a professional union, she considers it unethical.
However, she admits that street prostitutes face problems because they are not given permission and are living in poverty and misery because of the pandemic.
“Their condition is tragic. Many have lost their homes and are hungry,” she said, adding “those who are lucky rely on friends and family, but many face homelessness.”
She then explained how illegal sex workers are being exploited.
“The thing is simple, licensing needs to be extended. If she has the courage to be public, or if she likes to be public, let her do it where she wants legally and to have her own block and be safe.
“Now, as things stand, trafficking is on the rise. Every prostitute is accountable to a man who has built an army of illegally extradited foreigners and non-foreigners, and exploits them.
“And let’s not talk better about their relationship with the condom… As soon as anyone can get a license to practice, trafficking will automatically be abolished,” she said.
Asked how the situation for uninsured issues could be improved, Kanellopoulou is unable to maintain her composure.
“Where is the welfare state? It closes its eyes and behaves as if they do not exist.
“Well, there are! This Church has so many properties closed.
“Can’t it help? Is it better to stay on the street?
“Not only prostitutes who face poverty and misery, but also other vulnerable groups,” she said.
Kanellopoulou explained that things are not rosy for the remaining 10% of prostitutes, who have a license to practice.
The pandemic hit brothels well, while state aid is minimal in relation to the size of fixed costs.
“When you get 800 euros and your rent is 500, you have to pay for electricity, water, food and many get their cigarettes, how do you live?
“The money is minimal. Many brothels cannot stand and will be closed,” she said.
Kanellopoulou concluded that brothels could work, but with measures, like all other industries.
“We could work, using masks and a number of other measures. The issue is to make radical changes in our profession.
“To be able to work legally, to stop renewing a license every two years, which is provided in law 99. The same law stipulates that you can not be a staff member in a brothel if your age is less than 50 years old.
“It is like saying that only when you reach 50 you can work as a cleaner, while if you are less than 50, there is no reason to work as a cleaner.
This is because they are misogynists and sexists,” concluded Kanellopoulou.
Kanellopoulou, in addition to being a combative trade unionist and president of the Union, is also the owner of the brothel “To Bordello tis Ellis,” located at 104a Acharnon Street.
She herself decided to close her brothel, which is one of the oldest in Athens.
“I decided to close it. If you look at my brothel, you will realise that it is a palace,” she said.
“Athens is ruined, I saw horrible incidents happening that dropped the level. On the other hand, I have been working since the 70’s, I need my rest.
“But my brothel is not for sale. It has emotional value,” she concluded.