A turning point for women in Greece

Published on January 25th, 2021

One of the most popular athletes in Greece found the courage to reveal past sexual abuse and initiated a nation-wide discussion about gender equality:

• Claims by Sofia Bekatorou, a Greek Olympic sailing champion, that she was sexually assaulted by a top sporting official 23 years ago, when she was 21, have prompted a wave of support and an unusually open debate in a country where studies suggest sexual harassment is prevalent.

And it has catapulted one of Greece’s most popular international athletes back into the public eye, this time as a champion for women’s rights.

Several other women from the field of sports and beyond have now also spoken out about alleged harassment, and the Greek Supreme Court has urged prosecutors to make responding to such claims a priority.

Bekatorou, who won gold at the 2004 Athens Olympics and bronze four years later in Beijing, said a senior official of the country’s sailing federation sexually assaulted her in a hotel room in 1998. While not initially naming the official, Bekatorou has since confirmed the official to be Aristeidis Adamopoulos. – Full report

• When Sofia Bekatorou revealed she had been sexually assaulted, few realized her powerful testimony would prompt a #Metoo movement in Greek sport.

But when the sailing federation hit back at her allegations the following day, the whole story exploded. It said it had never received any complaint from Bekatorou and essentially asked her to name the man, since she had “taken the initiative to speak about this unpleasant incident after so many years.”

Inspired by her courage and angered by the federation’s cynicism, more athletes began going public with experiences of sexual harassment and abuse using the hashtag #metisofia (on Sofia’s side). Now the Greek president has praised the former champion for ending a “conspiracy of silence” and the government says her story has shaken not just sport but society as a whole. – Full report

• A Greek former sailing coach was arrested on charges of sexual abuse of a junior athlete in the period 2010-2013, Greek police announced on January 24.

An Athens prosecutor issued the arrest warrant against the alleged perpetrator after receiving testimonies from the now 21-year-old female athlete and her family, and the man was arrested on Samos Island where he currently resides, Greek daily Proto Thema reported.

A few hours earlier he had given an interview to the same newspaper, revealing his identity and claiming that it was not a case of rape, but “consensual sex” with the underage girl.

Triantafyllos Apostolou, 38, claimed that the girl was not 11, but 13 at the time the “relationship” started with the “blessing” of her mother. He intended to marry the girl at 16, he said. – Full report

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