ACCUSATIONS OF SEXUAL HARASSMENT ROCK GREEK ARTS WORLD
February 16, 2021
THENS – The Greek Olympic rowing champion has called for a national reckoning on a subject that has been banned for less than a month on charges of sexual harassment, after which the Greek art world came under a storm of accusations.
Many famous actors and directors have been accused of harassment or beatings and have been removed from high-profile productions. The director of the country’s prestigious National Theater had resigned amid allegations of sexual harassment and harassment.
Many allegations – from men as well as women – have surfaced in the media. Prosecutors in Athens are handling the most serious cases and have promised to investigate all credible allegations.
The court official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said he expected more cases to be filed, though it was unclear how many would be prosecuted due to alleged incidents and lack of evidence.
The storm of accusations against household names and dignitaries in the Greek art world comes from one of the most conservative institutions in Europe, where such atrocities have long been rumored but never openly discussed, let alone prosecuted.
Last month, Sophia Bekatoro, the 200-year-old Olympic boating champion and one of the country’s most popular athletes, publicly accused a top official of sexually abusing her in 1998-1998. It was the first high-profile allegation of sexual harassment and abuse of power. Since the #MeToo movement, Greece has pushed the power structures established in many other countries.
Her decision to speak out has led to a flood of similar claims and an open and passionate debate about sexual harassment and abuse in Greece, where nine out of ten women face unpleasant advances in media, sports, politics and other areas, according to the study. Male dominated area.
In the world of performing arts, professionals say, the problem is acute and men are also being targeted.
The Greek Artists Association has recently received hundreds of phone calls alleging abuse from professionals.
The head of the union, Spyros Bibilas, told Greek television that the artists had called him “disgruntled.” It also said that many of the alleged incidents took place during Greece’s decade-long economic crisis when job insecurity increased and people were particularly vulnerable.
In a statement earlier this month, another organization representing drama students at Greece’s National Theater condemned “numerous incidents of bullying in the workplace and sexual violence” as well as racism, homophobia and other forms of discrimination.
In response to the complaints, Greece’s Ministry of Culture said it was overseeing an initiative to develop a code of conduct for state-owned cultural institutions. The ministry has appealed to the National Artists Association to report any misconduct to the authorities.
“There is zero tolerance for abuse of power, sexual harassment, bullying, discrimination and all forms of violence,” Nicholas Yatromanolkis, deputy minister of contemporary culture, said in an email. “The cultural realm is and should remain a place where dreams come true, not dreams come true.”
But some very high-profile personalities who are accused of abuse say they are victims of public frenzy, where they are found guilty.
Dimitris Lignadis, the director of the country’s prestigious National Theater, resigned in February. According to the report, he had sexually harassed the young actors. He denied the report. He has been accused of more sexual harassment since he left office.
In his resignation letter, which was made public by the Ministry of Culture, Shri Refers to the “toxic atmosphere of rumors”.
His lawyer, Nikos Georgoulius, said Mr. Lignadis was unjustly targeted and convicted. After he resigned, posters with his photo were posted on bus stops in central Athens, signaling that he would “give everything.”
“He seems to be watching the storm and new rumors are coming in every day,” he said. Mr Lignadis said he was “ready to give some explanation” to the plaintiffs.
Messages sent to the Facebook accounts of other acting professionals facing charges were not answered and further attempts to reach them failed.
Harris Tsortzakis, one of the three male actors who accused film director Costas Zapas of sexual harassment, called the industry an “omerta” using the Mafia’s Code of Silence.
In a statement on his Facebook page on January 30, Mr. Zapas dismissed these claims.
He wrote: “I have never pressured anyone to do what they want.
Mr. Zortzakis told Greek television last week, “We are afraid to name names if they sue us or know what else.” They should make it clear to the Ministry of Culture that they are standing behind the victims.
In late January, the three actresses made a joint statement alleging Costas Spyrolos, actor and director of sexual harassment. He said in a statement to the Greek media that he apologized for treating anyone badly. He was then asked to refrain from mentioning his name in connection with the broadcast of the statement by Greek television channels.
Jenny Botsi, one of the three actresses, was widely criticized for her silence. He thanked Bekaterou. Ms. Botsy was one of many who said that Ms. Bekatou inspired them to come forward.
Mrs Botsi told Greek television that she did not know how well she had done. “She has opened a road and is grateful that we have had the opportunity.”
Seven actresses have accused another well-known director and actor, George Kimulisis, of verbal and physical abuse without sexual harassment. He has denied the allegations, saying they are “unacceptable and untrue” and has sued at least one actress.
Nevertheless, the organizers of the popular Athens and Epidaurus festivals have removed Mr. Kimulis from a play to be held at the ancient Epidaurus Theater this summer.
In a statement, the organizers said they did so “because of the huge shadow of recent events.”
The public outcry and subsequent departures have caused confusion in the art world, but it remains unclear whether he will ever be tried in court.
According to legal experts, the main problem of the accused is that the alleged atrocities are many years old and can be prosecuted under the country’s limitation law.
Under Greek law, rape can be prosecuted for up to 15 years. As for sexual harassment, if no legal action is taken, the crime will end three months after the incident.
Although discussions have begun about changing the law to protect victims of sex crimes, legal experts say it is unlikely that the government will make any sweeping changes.
Ms Bekatero’s case has also been put on hold by lawyers whose charges have now been dropped.
Ms Bekatou said it was therefore important for victims to “break the silence without delay”.
Greek President Katerina Sakellarapolo expressed “great concern” about the wave of accusations.
“The biggest benefit of this difficult time for theater is the fearful vibes for art and other fields,” she said. “It is equally important that justice is done to restore the dignity and influence of individuals and organizations that society needs,” she said.
Message from Executive Director Laura A. Ahearn: Please visit our website at www.crimevictimscenter.org for news, information and resources in your community.