“Gender-based violence” is a broad term used by humanitarian organizations that includes any physical, sexual, psychological or economic harm directed at a person because of their gender, whether occurring in public or private life.
If you or someone you know has experienced gender-based violence, you can use this article to learn about:
- What gender-based violence is
- How to access medical care
- How to report an incident
- How to get psychological and legal help
If you have more questions about gender-based violence and available support services in Greece, please don’t hesitate to message us on Facebook. We will do our best to get you answers as soon as possible.
What is gender-based violence?
Gender-based violence refers to any harmful act that is perpetrated against a person’s will because of their biological sex or gender identity and gender expression. All genders can experience gender-based violence, but women and girls are more likely to experience one or more forms of it throughout their lives. Gender-based violence is also used to describe violence inflicted against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex (LGBQTI) persons.
The following are considered forms of gender-based violence:
Sexual violence: It includes rape, sexual assault, sexual harassment, and sexual exploitation.
Rape is the non-consensual penetration (however slight) of the vagina, anus, or mouth with a penis or other body part. Rape also includes penetration of the vagina or anus with an object. Attempted rape is also punished.
Sexual assault is any form of non-consensual sexual contact that does not result in or include penetration. Examples include unwanted kissing and fondling or touching of genitalia and buttocks.
Physical violence is any act of physical violence that is not sexual in nature. Examples include hitting, slapping, choking, cutting, shoving, burning, shooting or use of any weapons, acid attacks or any other act that results in pain, discomfort or injury.
- Psychological/emotional violence: It is the infliction of mental or emotional pain. Examples include using abusive language and harassment, forced isolation, locking someone up, stalking, making someone beg for essentials or money, humiliating someone, and threatening to kill someone or hurt others.
- Financial Violence and Denial of Resources, Opportunities and Services: It may include denying rightful access to economic resources and assets or livelihood opportunities, such as education, health and other social services. Different examples include earnings forcibly taken by an intimate partner or family member, a woman prevented from using contraceptives, a girl prevented from attending school, etc.
- Forced marriage/Harmful Traditional Practices. Forced Marriage is the marriage of an individual that takes place against her or his will. Harmful Traditional Practices refer mainly to the practice of Female Genital Mutilation. In Greece, both forced marriage (including the marriage of minors) and female genital mutilation are considered gender-based violence.
The Greek law on rape and sexual violence
In Greece, sexual violence and rape are recognized as crimes against sexual freedom (sexual crimes) and are punishable by law.
According to the Greek law, rape is defined as sexual intercourse or other sexual act of the same gravity taking place due to physical force or by the threat of serious and imminent hazard to life or physical integrity. Sexual intercourse and acts of equal gravity are also penalized whenever committed without the victim’s consent. The Greek law prohibits and punishes such acts when one’s spouse commits them.
Within a marriage, sex without consent is recognized as marital rape. The use of threats, violence or any forced sexual act is a criminal offence and shall be punished with imprisonment.
Rapists are sentenced to imprisonment from 5 to 10 years and up. If more than one perpetrator is acting together, the act is considered a more serious crime.
Caution! It’s important to know that when it comes to reporting sexual crimes to the police in Greece, no one should ask you to pay any fees. You also don’t need to have any legal papers at the time of reporting. In case the assault takes place a few hours before you go to the police, it is important that you also ask the police to refer you to a competent forensic service to be examined by specialized doctors.
If, in any case, your communication with the police is hampered in any way, or you are requested to pay fees or provide any additional documents, you could reach out to a legal organization close to you and ask for a lawyer to accompany you to the police station, if possible. You can access a list of legal organisations here.
Accessing medical care
If you experienced rape by a known or unknown to you person, you can seek medical care in the emergency room of public hospitals or seek help from a doctor offering services in the camp you are in. You have the right to medical care even if you do not wish to report the rape attack to the police.
If you experienced rape, you need to seek medical care within 3 days of the incident to minimize the potential risk of HIV/AIDS transmission. A medical professional will provide you with post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP), which is a safe emergency treatment through medication aimed at preventing infection after possible exposure to HIV.
In cases of domestic violence where the violence is recurring, even if you do not intend to sue, it is important to be examined and get a medical certificate. This will help you to have evidence in case you decide to take legal actions in the future.
What you can expect during medical care:
- Physical examination and questions on your medical history
- Treatment of injuries
- Prevention of sexually transmitted infections including HIV prevention (within 3 days)
- Prevention of unwanted pregnancy (within 3 to 5 days)
- If you consent, collection of forensic evidence by the police and public prosecutor (within 3 to 5 days)
- Psychological and emotional support
- Medical documentation
- Follow-up care
- Referral to other services such as legal aid, organisations that can help secure your rights, etc.
Reporting a gender-based violence incident
If you have suffered any incidents of gender-based violence mentioned at the beginning of this article, you have the legal right to share any information you wish, at any moment, with the authorities. You can read more about women’s legal rights in Greece here.
If you are staying in an accommodation facility or a camp, go to the site manager, social worker in charge, or a professional that you trust and they should provide you with more information about how to access support. Even if a specialised service is unavailable in the place where you are staying, they should refer you to an organisation that can help.
You can also call the SOS helpline at 15900,
which responds to female survivors of gender-based violence and any citizen who wants to receive information, and is available 24 hours a day in Greek and English. Farsi is available Tuesday and Friday, 9:00-11:00, Arabic Monday and Thursday 9:00-11.00 and Ukrainian and Russian Monday-Friday, 14:00-16:00.. The consultants who pick up your call will listen to you, give you support and refer you to the appropriate services, such as a women’s counseling center or a shelter, based on their availability. Note that it is a low-cost helpline (charges for local landline calls). For other languages (such as Urdu, Lingala, Somali etc.), an appointment with an interpreter at a counseling center can be arranged. This practically means that if you don't speak English or Greek, you cannot directly call the line, but someone speaking Greek/English needs to arrange an appointment for you.
If you don’t feel comfortable making a phone call, you can email them to the address: email@example.com.
If you or someone you know have survived human trafficking, you can call the National Human Trafficking Resource Line 1109, operated by the organization A21 to receive information and support. It is available 24/7 in Greek, English and Ukrainian, and there is the capacity for interpretation into other languages upon request.
Any information you share with them remains confidential and will not be shared further without your permission.
Reporting to the police
If you decide to report a case of gender-based violence to the police, consent is very important. Make sure you freely agree when filing a report or when you get referred to other services.
Authorities or organizations should ensure confidentiality and respect your personal data at all times. You have the right to control your data and decide what information can be shared throughout the process.
In ex-officio offences, such as domestic violence, the authorities must initiate criminal proceedings if they find out in any way about the incident. However, if you want to be sure that the authorities will investigate your complaint, it is recommended that you file a written complaint along with your lawyer’s help. You should also keep in mind that, in such crimes that are ex-officio prosecuted, once the complaint is reported and registered, there is no possibility for the investigation process to be ceased. ,
You also have the right to choose between a female and a male translator.
If you wish to report a rape to the police, it’s best to avoid activities that could potentially damage useful evidence such as:
- Showering or bathing before the medical examination at the hospital
- Changing and washing the clothes you were wearing
It’s important to know that whether incidents of gender-based violence happened to you back home, during your travel to Greece or in Greece, you can always seek medical, psychological and legal help in Greece.
Authorities, especially in domestic cases, try to discourage the victims by saying that the other side will file a lawsuit for false accusation, and in this case, contact legal organizations.
We know that the reporting process in Greece is complicated and not always smooth sailing so reaching out to a legal organisation can help you secure your rights and navigate the legal system.
Where you can seek psychological and legal help
You can find a list of organizations that offer psychosocial and legal support to survivors of gender-based violence on our Service map.
You can send us a message on Facebook to direct you to NGOs, service providers and public services according to your needs.
Also, you can reach out to one of the KETHY counselling centers for women who suffered gender-based violence offered by the Greek state: