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A dozen prostitutes a day seen on Ledra Street.


Patrick Dewhurst

PROSTITUTION has 'grown enormously' in old Nicosia in recent months, Nicosia Mayor Eleni Mavrou said yesterday.

Mavrou was responding to eyewitness reports that men were being approached by prostitutes in Eleftheria Square in broad daylight. One Cyprus Mail Reporter was approached twice by Eastern European prostitutes at lunch time in the busy square.

"In the last couple of months it has grown enormously, with 10 to 12 prostitutes sometimes seen soliciting in the Ledra street area. We discussed it with the police who say that the current legislation has made it hard for them to prove an offence has been committed," said Mavrou.

Nicosia Municipality has exchanged letters with the Justice Ministry and the parliamentary legal committee to re-examine the law, she said.

The head of Cyprus' human trafficking unit said yesterday sexual exploitation was "getting serious" after undercover police caught two Romanian prostitutes red handed in Paphos at the weekend.

According to reports, the women were charging at least e1/470 to each brothel visitor, with prices varying depending on the time and type of services. The reports also allege that the women would change roles depending on the customer's preference.

Rita Superman, head of the police's anti-trafficking unit, said: "The police use any tool which is legal to prove that offences have been committed." On this occasion, the police are thought to have used an associate, who paid in marked notes that were later found on one of the women.

According to Superman this was not an isolated incident but part of an increasingly serious problem, whereby Eastern European girls are being lured to Cyprus with false prospects, only to be forced into prostitution.

Superman also attributed the rise to arcane laws that allow prostitutes to solicit, but stressed that the root of the problem is the high demand for their services, which has created a market for human traffickers.

She said: "Unfortunately it is not an offence for men to go looking (for prostitutes). But if there was not such a demand then there would not be such a problem."

Asked about the law on soliciting, she said: "The law is a bit ancient, because unless a prostitute insists upon (offering her services) or bothers a man, it is not an offence."

Cypriot Law also states that a prostitute can legally work alone, but the activity becomes illegal if somebody else financially gains from her income, or if two or more prostitutes work in the same building.

In the case of the two Romanians the elder woman, 36, was allegedly taking revenue from the younger, aged 30 for serving clients.

And while the notion of policemen funding the oldest profession in the line of duty might seem amusing, Superman stressed that this was one of many serious cases of sexual exploitation.

"[In this case] other people also benefited from the prostitution. They were the ones who found customers and took the money, after deceiving the women about working conditions. They had promised the women a job, but this was not what they had in mind."

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Publication:Cyprus Mail (Cyprus)
Date:Jun 16, 2010
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