Greek sex workers criticise COVID safety guidelines

by Reuters
Wednesday, 17 June 2020 09:00 GMT

Transgender sex worker and manager of the "Red Umbrella" support group for sex workers Anna Kouroupou sits in her living room, after the Greek government released health and safety guidelines for sex workers against the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Athens, Greece, June 15, 2020. REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis

Image Caption and Rights Information

Greek sex workers are concerned about their livelihoods as new safety guidelines threaten the anonymity of their clients

By Lefteris Papadimas

ATHENS, June 17 (Reuters) - Greek sex workers are concerned that new health and safety guidelines to protect them and their clients against the coronavirus will harm their business.

Regulations which came into force on June 15 urge sex workers to keep names and contact numbers of customers, who will lose the anonymity they previously sought.

"What client is going to give us their personal information? I tell you, people are going to go hungry," said Anna Kouroupou, a trans-woman who heads Red Umbrella, a support group.

As brothels across the country reopened on Monday, the rules dictate the use of masks, partners keeping their heads apart, bed linen changed after each encounter, cashless payments and clients leaving a name and contact number.

"They are ridiculous and I'm putting it mildly," said Rita, who manages a brothel in central Athens.

On Monday evening, business was brisk. But with the new requirements, sex workers wonder for how long.

"It's been mad, someone said sex-starved," said Rita, counting out 15 euros left by each client.

Those in the industry are anxious to earn some money now as sex workers received no benefits during the lockdown. Kouroupou would do fund-raisers, and collect supermarket coupons to help others.

She and others in the business fear the new rules may force sex workers to go underground. She also dismisses the notion of orderly queues at brothels.

"They almost break down the door in their hurry to get in because they are embarrassed to be seen. How will they be expected to queue? It's ridiculous." (Writing by Michele Kambas; Editing by Giles Elgood)