Prostitution is, at its most basic, an exchange of sex for money. According to Greek law, prostitution is legal only by permit within the premises of a licensed brothel. To obtain a prostitution permit, the woman needs to have a valid work permit, be free of disease and unmarried.
She is required to submit to weekly health checks at the Department of Health. It is much more difficult to obtain a license to run a brothel, with the result that most prostitution occurring in Greece is illegal. There are no legal provisions for transvestites or married women to obtain prostitution permit.
When an individual is arrested for prostitution, it is either because they are working in a place without a license, or because they do not have a prostitution permit. Once taken to the police station, usually he or she will spend the night there and in the morning be taken to court.
In court, he or she will be fined between 200 and 500 euros and most often be released the same day. The individual may pay the fine or make an appeal. Eventually however, if they have outstanding fines, they will have to spend several months in prison. This whole process varies, depending on the specific circumstances of each case.
Many individuals in prostitution are also picked up for violations of immigration law, such as illegal entry or overstaying their visa. Currently, many of the trafficked women are pursuing refugee papers, even if they do not fit the criteria for refugees. This is because the process to obtain refugee status takes so much time; they stay and work until this process is finished.
If they do not have legal residence papers, at any time they can be picked up and taken to the detention center for illegal immigrants. Sometimes they are held for months while their case is appealed. Other times, they are deported within a few days. Often it appears that the individuals are exploited again by unscrupulous lawyers who take advantage of their lack of knowledge of their rights and marginalized position, and demand huge sums to represent them with dubious results.