With an estimate of 17,000 women working the sex trade in Greece in 2015 [Independent News 2015], the numbers have soared since the increase of refugees and migrant workers entering Greece as a result of international conflicts. It is not only a ‘foreigners’ trade’: one source suggested 40,000 women and children were trafficked to Greece annually from 2010 onwards. Impoverished Greek women who lost everything in the national economic collapse of 2008 saw no other way to make ends meet than become sex workers. Ekathimerini news website quotes a Greek police report for 2017 stating criminal gangs made 100 million Euros in illegal activity, with human trafficking being the biggest share of that figure. Debt bondage has also increased with ‘survival sex’, particularly affecting Afghani migrant children [Trafficking in Persons Report 2018 GREECE: Tier 2]. This ever-rising trend world-wide makes sobering reading.
Anna's Road To Trust God Off The Streets – story
Rosie (UK) came to Greece with the deliberate intention of working with women on the street. God had developed her heart for this ministry in Switzerland, despite her fears of being too young at 19 to be useful. Since then, she has seen God’s hand at work through her. Looking back on those eight and half years, Rosie reflects: “I was super-blessed to be able to see God working in all those years doing outreach, and some of the women whom I first knew on the street are now personal friends.”
She continues: “I remember getting to know Anna* about six years ago on the streets of Greece. We used to have interesting conversations about God, which really isn't normal on the streets at 02.00! Occasionally a teammate and I would get coffee with her. After a couple of years in the sex industry, God gave her a dream. He clearly told her that He loved her but that she needed to leave the streets. Anna was practically glowing, as she told us what God had said to her. She was so happy and really intended to trust God and follow His plans as she left the sex trade. We were very encouraged, and told her that if she needed help, she should let us know.
For a few months, everything seemed to be going well. We spoke regularly, and she was happy. Then things got harder for her. Nobody was hiring a foreign, uneducated girl, no matter how eager she was to work. She was running into debt. All her old friends related to her old lifestyle, and she was ashamed to admit that she couldn't cope. She stopped answering our calls. By the end of the year she was back on the streets.
When we asked what happened, she admitted that she had been evicted and had chosen prostitution over homelessness. She didn't want help from anyone, and she avoided us because we had seen her at her best and then at her worst. She grew 'hard' on the streets. But we kept praying, reminding her that she was loved by God and us. Her choices hadn't changed her value, and she didn't have to do anything alone”. Rosie and her team continued to show their interest and concern over the next few years. Finally, Anna decided to try trusting God again.
The road for Anna has been long and challenging; she has had to unlearn behaviours and relearn how to trust others. Today she has a family of her own and is readjusting well to 'normal' life.
“For each woman, the challenges of coming out of the sex trade into a different way requires trust and belief that God cares and is reliable”, said Rosie. “It is a hard road to travel.” But with God, Rosie and her team to travel alongside, Anna has learnt she need never feel alone.
*Name changed to protect identity
** See www.ekneou.org/ for further information about Rosie’s non-profit making company, Εκ Νέου
Ekathimerini News www.ekathimerini.com/227657/article/ekathimerini/news/greece-a-hub-for-drug-and-human-trafficking-police-report-shows Accessed 19.12.2019.
Trafficking in Persons Report 2018 GREECE: Tier 2 www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=11&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=2ahUKEwjgoK-l1MLmAhUJYsAKHWmUCgUQFjAKegQICRAC&url=https%3A%2F%2Fgr.usembassy.gov%2Fwp-content%2Fuploads%2Fsites%2F206%2FTIP2018_Greece.pdf&usg=AOvVaw2_KuZC8VsfR-bGlw-FJDUa Accessed 19.12.2019.