child refugees in Greece desperate to reach the UK and other parts of northern Europe are being forced to sell their bodies in order to pay smugglers to help them with their journeys, according to a new report from Harvard University.
The report, from Dr Vasileia Digidiki and Prof Jacqueline Bhabha at the university’s centre for health and human rights, reveals what they describe as a “growing epidemic of sexual exploitation and abuse of migrant children in Greece”.
The report says child refugees from conflict zones including Syria, Afghanistan and Pakistan trying to make their way across Europe are being stranded in Greece, unable to afford the fees charged by smugglers to move them.
The report found that the average price of a sexual transaction with a child is €15 (£12.50). The largest group of children selling sex are Afghani boys along with Syrians, Iraqis and Iranians. The majority of customers are older men aged 35 and over.
Report author Digidiki said: “This emergency can no longer be ignored. We can no longer sit idle while migrant children are abused and forced to sell their bodies in broad daylight and plain sight in the heart of Athens simply to survive”.
“It is our responsibility as human beings to face this emergency head on and take immediate action at every level to put an end to this most heinous violation of dignity and human rights.”
The report finds that child sexual exploitation is high in both urban and rural settings in Greece. It concludes that there has been “a dramatic failure of protection affecting significant numbers of child migrants and refugees within Europe today”.
Charities working to support child refugees across Europe who want to seek sanctuary in Britain have criticised the government for closing the Dubs scheme in March after taking 350 children via the programme. Campaigners had hoped up to 3,000 children would benefit under the scheme.
Governments urged to end ‘most heinous human rights violation’ as report finds widespread sexual exploitation of migrant children in Greece