“Gender-based violence” is a broad term used by humanitarian organizations that includes any physical or verbal violence directed at a person because of their gender.
If you or someone you know has experienced gender-based violence, you can use this article to learn about:
- What gender-based violence is
- How to access medical care
- How to report an incident
- How to get psychological and legal help
If you have any more questions about gender-based violence and available support services in Greece, please don’t hesitate to message us on Facebook. We will do our best to get you answers as soon as possible.
What is gender-based violence?
Gender-based violence is violence directed at a person because of their biological sex or gender identity and gender expression. Both women and men can experience gender-based violence, but women and girls are more likely to experience one or more forms of it throughout their lives.
In Greece, the following are considered gender-based violence:
Rape is the non-consensual penetration (however slight) of the vagina, anus, or mouth with a penis or other body part. Rape also includes penetration of the vagina or anus with an object. Attempted rape is also punished.
Sexual assault is any form of non-consensual sexual contact that does not result in or include penetration. Examples include unwanted kissing, and fondling or touching of genitalia and buttocks.
Physical assault is any act of physical violence that is not sexual in nature. Examples include hitting, slapping, choking, cutting, shoving, burning, shooting or use of any weapons, acid attacks or any other act that results in pain, discomfort or injury.
Forced marriage is the marriage of an individual that takes place against her or his will. In Greece, forced marriage (including marriage of minors) is also considered gender-based violence.
Gender-based violence may include the denial of rightful access to economic resources and assets or livelihood opportunities, such as education, health and other social services. Different examples include earnings forcibly taken by an intimate partner or family member, a woman prevented from using contraceptives, a girl prevented from attending school, etc.
Psychological/emotional abuse is the infliction of mental or emotional pain and includes:
- Using abusive language and harassment
- Forced isolation (locking someone up)
- Making someone beg for essentials or for money
- Humiliating someone
- Threatening to kill someone or hurt others
The Greek law on rape and sexual violence
In Greece, sexual violence and rape are recognized as crimes against sexual freedom and are punishable by law.
According to Greek law, rape is defined as sexual intercourse or other sexual act of same gravity taking place by due to force, physical violence or threat, including by one’s spouse.
Within a marriage, sex without consent is recognized as marital rape. The use of threats, violence or any forced sexual act is a criminal offense.
Rapists are sentenced to imprisonment from 5 to 10 years and up. If there is more than one perpetrator acting together, the act is considered a more serious crime.
Caution! It’s important to know that when it comes to reporting crimes to the police in Greece, no one should ask you to pay any fees. You also don’t need to have any legal papers at the time of reporting.
But, if in any case you are requested to pay or provide any documents, you could reach out to a legal organization close to you and ask for a lawyer to accompany you to the police station, if possible. You can access a list of legal organisations here.
Accessing medical care
If you have been forced to have sex by a known or unknown to you person, you can seek medical care in the emergency room of public hospitals or seek help from a doctor offering services in the camp you are in, even if you do not wish to report the rape attack to the police.
If you experienced rape, you need to seek medical care within 3 days of the incident to minimize the potential risk of HIV/AIDS transmission. A medical professional will provide you with post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP), which is a safe emergency treatment through medication aimed at preventing infection after possible exposure to HIV.
In cases of domestic violence where the violence is recurring, even if you do not intend to sue, it is important to be examined and get a medical certificate. This will help you to have evidence in case you decide to take legal actions in the future.
What you can expect during medical care:
- Physical examination and questions on your medical history
- Treatment of injuries
- Prevention of sexually transmitted infections including HIV prevention (within 3 days)
- Prevention of unwanted pregnancy (within 3 to 5 days)
- If you consent, collection of forensic evidence by the police and public prosecutor (within 3 to 5 days)
- Psychological and emotional support
- Medical documentation
- Follow-up care
- Referral to other services such as legal aid, organisations that can help secure your rights, etc.
Reporting a gender-based violence incident
If you have suffered any incidents of gender-based violence mentioned at the beginning of this article, you have the legal right to share any information you wish, at any moment, with the authorities. You can read more about women’s legal rights in Greece here.
If you are staying in an accommodation facility or in a camp, go to the site manager or social worker in charge, and they should provide you with more information about how to access support. Even if a specialised service is unavailable in the place where you are staying, they should refer you to an organisation that can help.
You can also call the SOS helpline 15900, which responds to female survivors of gender-based violence and their children, and is available 24 hours a day in Greek, English, Farsi, Arabic and French. The people who pick up your call will listen to you, give you support and refer you to the appropriate services, such as a women’s counseling center or a shelter, based on their availability. Note that it is a low-cost help line (charges for local landline calls). For other languages (such as Urdu, Lingala, Somali etc), SOS HELPINE arranges an appointment with an interpreter. This practically means that if you don't speak English or Greek, you cannot directly call the line, but someone speaking Greek/English needs to arrange an appointment for you.
If you don’t feel comfortable making a phone call, you can email them to the address: email@example.com.
Any information you share with them remains confidential and will not be shared further without your permission.
Reporting to the police
If you decide to report a case of gender-based violence to the police, consent is very important. Make sure you freely agree when filing a report or when you get referred to other services.
Authorities or organizations should ensure confidentiality and respect your personal data at all times. You have the right to control your own data and decide what information can be shared throughout the process.
In ex officio offences the authorities have the obligation to initiate criminal proceedings if they find out in any way about the incident, it is not necessary to file a lawsuit.
You also have the right to choose between a female and a male translator.
If you wish to report a rape to the police, it’s best to avoid activities that could potentially damage useful evidence such as:
- Showering or bathing before the medical examination at the hospital
- Changing and washing the clothes you were wearing
It’s important to know that whether incidents of gender-based violence happened to you back home, during your travel to Greece or in Greece, you can always seek medical, psychological and legal help in Greece.
Authorities, especially in domestic cases, try to discourage the victims by saying that the other side will file a lawsuit for false accusation, and in this case, contact legal organizations.
We know that the reporting process in Greece is complicated and not always smooth sailing so reaching out to a legal organisation can help you secure your rights and navigate the legal system.
Where you can seek psychological and legal help
You can find a list of organizations that offer psychosocial and legal support to survivors of gender-based violence on our Service map.
For your search, you need to follow the below steps:
- In the "Region" tab, you can choose your location area in Greece, such as Attica, Western Macedonia, Crete etc.
- In the "City" tab, you can choose your city in the region, such as Athens, Thessaloniki etc.
- In the "All Services" tab, you can choose among services such as community centres that provide activities free of charge, legal actors, languages classes for free, public hospitals and social and health services provided by NGO's.
You can also navigate on the map or choose the list view:
Please note that the Service Map provides information in English, but you can send us a message on Facebook to direct you to NGOs, service providers and public services according to your needs.
Also, you can reach out to one of the KETHY counselling centers for women who suffered gender-based violence offered by the Greek state: