You can use this article to learn about your rights as a woman in Greece related to:
- Reporting a crime or harassment
- Marriage and family life
- The asylum process
If you have any more questions about women’s rights in Greece, please don’t hesitate to message us on Facebook.
Rights in the asylum process
When families apply for asylum, the asylum cases of parents and children are linked.
Although all family members have the same case number, the asylum case of each person is treated individually. You have the right to request a separate case number, for any reason and at any time, between the beginning of your asylum process (first registration of your asylum claim) and the end of your asylum interview (you can ask for a case separation until during your interview date). Please note that a new case number will be provided to the requester, but the children usually remain under the first case number unless a court decision provides otherwise and the requester also has custody of them. After this point, the spouses’ files cannot be divided unless the couple can officially prove that they are separated.
You also have the right to access information that can help you make informed decisions about any phase of the asylum process, including legal information tailored to your situation. Information regarding the asylum procedure shall be provided by the Asylum Service. For specialized legal advice, you can always address the accredited legal organizations which provide legal counseling free of charge.
Right to report a crime
If you experience a crime, you have the right to submit a complaint to the police or to any competent judicial authority. This is how you can access and follow all the relevant legal procedures.
Public servants and officials are obligated to investigate your case thoroughly and immediately notify the public prosecutor of any information regarding a crime.
Greek legislation favors gender equality and prohibits discrimination against women and girls. In Greece, sexual harassment is punishable by law. This includes any unfair treatment in response to you rejecting or resisting an unwelcome verbal, non-verbal or physical act of a sexual nature.
Sexual harassment is punished by imprisonment for up to 1 year or by a fine. In case the perpetrator is your employer, these actions are punished by imprisonment for up to 3 years.
Female genital mutilation is also considered a crime and prohibited in Greece. Anyone who encourages or convinces a woman to suffer genital mutilation in any way is punished by imprisonment.
Right to access health services
In Greece, women have the right to make decisions over their lives and bodies. You can decide if and when you wish to have kids. If you are pregnant and wish to stop your pregnancy, you have the right to access safe abortion care. You can learn more about your rights and pregnancy in Greece here.
You can also learn more about health services in Greece, including how to access pharmaceutical and medical care, even if you don’t have a social security number (AMKA) on our Service map.
Rights in a marriage
You have the right to choose your spouse and decide if you want to marry. Forced marriage is illegal in Greece. A wedding that has been officiated because of threat, deception or fraud can be annulled by a court decision.
Marriage between minors is also illegal in Greece. According to Greek law, only people aged 18 and over can get married. However, exceptions can be made if a court considers the best interest and opinion of the underage couple.
Greece recognizes a cohabitation agreement as an alternative to marriage. This is a legal agreement between a couple who choose to live together, allowing them similar rights as a married couple.
Within a marriage, you have the legal right to be respected and not to be insulted in any way, whether physically, emotionally or sexually. A woman needs to consent to any sexual interaction with her husband, and threats, violence, or any forced sexual act from a husband is a criminal offence. Abuse is also when a husband leaves their wife with no money for essentials such as food and clothing or doesn’t give them access to their own bank accounts, or withholds her legal document and passport without her consent.
Rights in a divorce
You have the right to ask for a divorce. In this case, the custody of the children is assigned to one of the parents without gender-based discrimination or can be assigned to both parents if they agree.
When one of the parents holds custody of the children, the other has the right to apply to the court to visit and communicate with his / her children. A court decision can set specific visiting hours. That person also has the responsibility to pay an amount to the parents holding custody named "maintenance obligation". The court decides the amount.
Rights in a family
In Greece, parents have equal authority over their children.
Children born out of wedlock have equal rights as those born within marriage or a cohabitation agreement. Fathers must provide financial support for out-of-wedlock children if a court decides so. They are also liable for supporting their children and/or wife financially, in case of a divorce/ separation of spouses if the court provides so.
The use of violence within the family is prohibited by law. Parents are not allowed to use violence against children; or in front of the children. According to Greek law, children shall be protected from witnessing violence in their family, also, regardless of whether the violence is performed against them directly. Anyone can report such incidents and take the parents to court. Any type of violence is prohibited both against children and between parents, from any family member to any other.
Women also have equal inheritance rights as men and are allowed to own any property.
Rights at work
6 months after being fully registered, female asylum-seekers have the right to work in Greece. Female-recognized refugees have the right to work in Greece, and they can even start their businesses.
According to Greek law, men and women have equal employment rights and deserve to be paid equally. Women need to have equal access as men to education, vocational training, employment and work development opportunities.
Any work should be paid. Forced labor or payment in the form of food or housing is illegal. It is also illegal for an employer not to hire a woman because she is pregnant or a mother. Also, an employer can not terminate a contract of a pregnant woman while working and for 18 months after she gives birth.
As an employee in Greece, you have the right to report any mistreatment in terms of payments, bonuses, overtime payments, and benefits to a Department of the Greek Ministry of Labor called “Labour Inspectorates” («Σώμα Επιθεώρησης Εργασίας», in Greek). A list of all Employment Inspectors’ offices in Greece can be found here.
You also have the right to access any social support, like an unemployment card or financial benefits of any kind.
As for all employees in Greece, a full-time job should not exceed 40 hours per week and employees should get paid overtime if they work more than this.
You can learn more about workers’ rights in Greece here, including information on the minimum wage, tax rate, sick pay and pensions.
Rights as a mother
A working mother-to-be in Greece receives full insurance from her employer and has the right to 17 weeks of maternity leave. Generally, the mother can start taking leave 8 weeks before the estimated time of birth. It is mandatory to take eight (8) weeks of leave before the expected delivery date and nine (9) weeks after delivery.
After maternity leave, a newborn's mother is entitled to breastfeeding and childcare leave. This leave allows you to work 1 hour less per day for 30 months (you can either go to work 1 hour later than usual, either leave 1 hour earlier every day or interrupt work by one hour per day). This means if you work 8 hours a day, you can work 7 hours a day over 30 months.
Alternatively, if the employer agrees, the daily working hours of mothers may be reduced by two (2) hours per day for the first twelve (12) months after the maternity leave and by one (1) hour per day for six (6) additional months. Another option is to take full days of vacation, spread out every week, of an equivalent total number of hours within the time period during which the employee is entitled to reduced hours for child care. You can rearrange these hours to suit your needs and discuss your options with your employer. For example, you could take continuous paid leave or one (1) day off per week.
Alternatively, the parent may take consecutive annual leave of one year, granted in one lump sum or instalments, within the period during which the worker is entitled to reduced hours for childcare. Finally, you and your employee may agree to reduced hours however they see fit.
Even after this breastfeeding and childcare leave, you are entitled to the following:
- Special maternity leave for up to 6 months is to be arranged with your employer. Note that a mother insured by the e-E.F.K.A. who works on a fixed-term or indefinite employment contract in enterprises after the expiry of the maternity leave and the leave equal to the reduced working hours is entitled to receive a special maternity protection leave of nine (9) months.
- 3.5 months of unpaid childcare leave before the child reaches the age of 3.5 and after you've completed a year working for the same employer. Note that each working parent or person with parental authority has an exclusive and non-transferrable entitlement to four (4) months of parental leave to care for a child. This leave may be used continuously or broken up until the child reaches the age of eight (8) years to fulfil the minimum parenting obligations towards the child.
- Four (4) days of paid leave per year to attend teacher-parent meetings if your child is younger than 16 and attends school in Greece between kindergarten and high school level.
Working parents, whether full-time or part-time, are entitled to take time off from work, without a reduction in pay and with their employer's permission, to visit their children's schools and monitor their school attendance and performance. This right applies to each child up to 18 years of age who attends elementary or secondary education and to parents of children with special needs who attend special education facilities. The leave can be used for some hours or a full day, up to four (4) working days every calendar year. For example, if you have two (2) children under 16 years old, you have eight (8) days of paid leave to attend parent-teacher meetings. A father could also ask to take this leave — it's up to the parents to decide who will attend the school meetings.
The information in this article was provided with the help of lawyers at the organization Diotima, which specializes in women’s rights.