The sex industry, human trafficking and the global prohibition regime: A cautionary tale from Greece

Georgios Papanicolaou*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


Using the concept of global prohibition regimes as an analytical point of departure, this article interrogates the development and results of the agitation campaign that relayed the new global prohibition regime against trafficking for sexual exploitation in Greece after 1995. In line with the international trend towards the issue of trafficking in the 1990s, the Greek campaign has been successful in shaping perceptions of the change in the Greek sex industry on the basis of an equation of prostitution, trafficking and transnational organized crime, and it also successfully capitalized on transnational supports to induce changes in legislation and public policy. However, a critical examination of the Greek situation suggests that there is a considerable discrepancy between the above conceptualisation and the knowledge of the issue emerging from the activities of criminal justice agencies. The examination of the general conditions of economic exploitation and social marginalization of migrants in Greece in the 1990s and after reveals significant homologies between the social organization of the sex industry and other sectors of the economy that have depended on migrant labour. This result underscores the nature of the idea of organized crime as an ideological construct acting as a diversion from more substantive paths of inquiry into the structures of national economy that bear upon the exploitation of sexual labour.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)379-409
Number of pages31
JournalTrends in Organized Crime
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 16 Oct 2008
Externally publishedYes


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