Monday, 22 February 2021

In Greece, an Olympian leads the 'MeToo' movement

This article was published by Al Jazeera. 

Sofia Bekatorou

ATHENS, Greece – For two decades, Greek Olympic sailing champion Sofia Bekatorou’s rape quietly smouldered inside her. During that time she became one of the most decorated athletes in Greek history, had two children and completed a degree in psychology. But she struggled constantly with her experience. 

“I couldn’t reconcile it with my character. I couldn’t forgive myself for not reacting as I would have wished,” she says in an interview with Al Jazeera. “Sometimes I tried to find a solution in my dreams, to imagine I had reacted differently.” 

Repression is a defence mechanism, she says, but “the cost of not facing [the event] is that you don’t respect yourself. You consider yourself guilty.” 

Last month she went public about how a senior official at the Greek sailing federation lured her to his hotel room in 1998, when she was 21 years old, and raped her. “He said he would stop if I wanted him to, but he didn’t stop, no matter what I said. When he finished and got up from on top of me, I left the room ashamed and in tears,” she told a magazine. 

Tuesday, 2 February 2021

Campus police proposal riles Greek students

This article was published by Al Jazeera.

Students demonstrate outside parliament in Athens on January 28.

ATHENS, Greece – University students are preparing to fight an education bill they say will harm freedom of expression on campuses. 

The conservative New Democracy government wants to create a new police force for universities, empowered to arrest and charge those considered troublemakers. Although campus police would not bear firearms, they would be able to call in riot police and other reinforcements. 

The government also wants to introduce disciplinary boards with powers to suspend or expel students.  

Perhaps most controversially, students could face scrutiny for putting up posters or banners, and for “noise pollution”. 

“We’re afraid of the disciplinary measures in the bill, which essentially allow vigilantism on campus, and all forms of political expression are interpreted as misdemeanours,” says Hara Mantadaki, a political science student at Panteion University for the Social Sciences. She spoke to Al Jazeera in the midst of a student protest against the measures, where loud music was being played and banners were being painted – routine events on Greek campuses. “Even what we’re doing here would not be allowed,” she said.