In the rundown Pedion Areos Park, older men walk slowly by young asylum seekers before agreeing on a price for sex. He's wearing a red hoodie, blue jeans and a black cap. Everything suggests he is a typical year-old, apart perhaps from the jagged scar on his brow. The Afghan asylum seeker clasps his hands tightly in front of him as he speaks. I don't have a home so I sleep every night in a park nearby. His only shelter is a cheap tent that he shares with an Iranian asylum seeker.
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Men did not marry until they were thirty or so and with such little opportunity to see let alone chat with respectable citizen women outside their immediate family, it is perhaps understandable that prostitution was an important part of their life, and the many men who came without families from the various Greek colonies to seek employment in prosperous Athens helped to make the sex trade a major industry. An often quoted maxim warned men not to squander their inheritances with too many visits to a brothel, but prostitution was legal and morally acceptable, and the concern was with the diminution of the estate not with the way it was done. We have no way of knowing how many prostitutes lived in Athens, but the number is high enough that their stories make up a significant part of the real life of women in the Ancient World and any attempt to exclude them in favor of only the respectable married citizen would leave us with a very skewed picture of the life of women in Ancient Greece. The ancients assumed that the victor in any battle had the right, if he so chose, to capture and enslave as many people as he could find in the conquered area. Imagine the shock experienced by a woman whose town or village is overrun and the survivors swept up by slave traders who appear to have arrived out of nowhere. Then imagine the horror she must have felt when she discovered that she was being auctioned off to a brothel.
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CNN In the heart of Athens, sidewalks teem with passersby, restaurants are packed with people and crowds flow from the metro. Chat with us in Facebook Messenger. Find out what's happening in the world as it unfolds. More Videos Child refugee forced to turn to prostitution
Just 17 when he left Afghanistan, Khasim says, he walked more than 4, miles through Iran, Turkey, Bulgaria and Serbia, eventually reaching the Greek capital — a journey more than 1, miles longer than one from New York to San Francisco. Khasim, 19, now spends his days hanging around the northwest corner of Omonia Square, which has become a marketplace for young asylum seekers to sell themselves. As gray-haired men scout the area, he has perfected the art of waiting. If you live on the street, you have to do what you have to.