Veranstaltungen: Dokumentation


Forum 6: Justice and Crime

Greek trafficking, German discrimination

Although the theme for this panel was justice and criminology, neither speaker addressed specific crimes in any area of Europe, particularly where the speakers work in Athens, Greece and Berlin, Germany. Neither provided statistics to support their general statements. Dr. Grigoris Lazos is a professor of criminology at Panteion University in Athens, Greece. His focus is curbing the trafficking of women and children, apparently an epidemic in larger cities in the country, which have caused among women widespread poverty, clinical depression and high suicide rates.

The country has suffered rampant, violent crime both against the women trafficked (including women from the Balkans, Russia, and in some remote areas of Ireland) and people who try to intervene to help the trafficked.
Lazos provided no material to support his assertions though he did briefly give an anecdotal example by telling the members of the group that, at one time, he ' bought' 41 women and sheltered them in his home to 'save them'. He offered no practical or creative solutions to curbing the sex trade.

Lazos proposed that more shelters or help groups be created and funded by the Grecian government to help the victims of trafficking i.e. creating educational programs, safe houses, and a network that allows victims to reach out for help or confidentially inform authorities of an underground trafficking operation. He suggested that this shelter system might resemble ones currently operating in America. Mr Lazos emphasized repeatedly the entrenched history of sexism in Grecian culture that permeates everyday interaction between the sexes ranging from archaic dating rituals (in which men claim women as 'property'). He said that Grecian law contains offensive language such as `fairies,' which obviously implies that it is justified to discriminate homosexuals, or at a minimum, diminishes the chances that someone who is homosexual would get adequate judicial treatment.

Lazos pointed out that Grecian law does not recognize rape between two married people or a couple that has been together for a 'long time,' without providing further explanation, despite requests from the group. "The woman's true nature is to be dominated and the male's is to dominate. This is the way we live in Greece," he said, seemingly emphasizing rather than downplaying stereotypes. Going on:"This is somewhat true because women are softer and need to feel and be touched more than men. But this is also no longer acceptable as we wish to be recognized as a more liberal society." Mr. Lazos concluded his discussion by saying, amid chuckles at the table, that Greeks have 400 different meanings for the word, 'fuck' and that this was some indication of the hyper sexualized macho Greek culture.

Members of the group were far more engaged by Prof. Dr. Susanne Baer of Humboldt University Law School who spoke about the disparities in pay and treatment that female attorneys receive compared to their male counterparts. Women receive harsher, longer sentences, she said, than men simply because fewer women are prosecuted for crimes, ranging from violent offenses to petty theft. In other words, the system rarely deals with a female offender and has little idea about what is the appropriate punishment. Or, simply, judges (89 percent male) wish to make an example of her. Even more surprising, Baer said that witnesses who are female are often forced to defend their credibility on the stand more than male witnesses. And unlike most western courts, the female witness' personal life and sexual history can be used to discredit her in front a jury and/judge. Male witnesses are almost never challenged in this way, she contents. This happens frequently despite a German law which forbids the use of this kind of information.

Baers says that a survey she conducted indicates that more than half of the attorneys in Germany are unaware of it. Garnering gasps of some members of the group, female lawyers start their careers as typists, despite their educational background or experience. It is often the case that when a woman walks into a German courtroom it is assumed that she is the stenographer, says Baers.

Referent und Referentin:

  • Grigoris Lazos

  • Panteion Universität Athen, Griechenland

  • Susanne Baer
  • Humboldt Universität Berlin, Deutschland

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