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Greek PM vows legal overhaul amid recent wave of #MeToo allegations

Published: Updated:

Greece’s prime minister on Thursday promised sweeping changes to the country’s laws and labor regulations to combat sexual abuse and misconduct in the wake of an assault allegation made by Olympic sailing champion Sofia Bekatorou that has prompted more cases and triggered a nationwide debate.

Speaking in parliament, conservative Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said the government will introduce tougher sentencing guidelines, propose changes to statute-of-limitation rules for cases involving minors, and create a dedicated government agency to deal with abuse claims in workplaces and organized youth activities.

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Multiple cases of alleged sexual misconduct and abuse have been made public since former Olympian Bekatorou alleged she was sexually assaulted by a national sailing federation official in 1998.

The people coming forward with accusations include other athletes, current and former university students, and stage actors.

Greek Olympic sailing champion Sofia Bekatorou poses for a photograph during an interview for the Associated Press, at Agios Kosmas marina in southern Athens, Thursday, Feb. 4, 2021. (AP)
Greek Olympic sailing champion Sofia Bekatorou poses for a photograph during an interview for the Associated Press, at Agios Kosmas marina in southern Athens, Thursday, Feb. 4, 2021. (AP)

Mitsotakis said reports that unaccompanied minors were vulnerable to abuse at migrant camps on Greek islands also motivated him to take action.

“There were children at the camps...and in Greek cities that were being exploited for sex for 5 and 10 euros ($6-12),” the prime minister told lawmakers. He noted that children and teenagers traveling alone no longer live at the island camps or are held in police cells for protection but have supervised, separate living quarters.

The reports include a 51-page document from the Francois-Xavier Bagnoud Center for Health and Human Rights at Harvard University in 2017 that said, citing camp informants, there were serious indications of child abuse at Greek migrant camps.

Separately Thursday, a former director of Greece’s National Theatre appeared before a public prosecutor to respond to child abuse allegations.

The 56-year-old suspect, who denies any wrongdoing, was arrested Saturday and remains in police custody.

Opposition parties have demanded that Mitsotakis replace his culture minister over the alleged scandal. A government official told the AP Thursday that new sentencing guidelines and details of the proposed legal changes would be announced “in the coming days.”

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