Sun. Feb 28th, 2021
Accusations of Sexual Harassment Rock Greek Arts World

ATHENS — Significantly less than a month immediately after allegations of sexual assault by a Greek Olympic sailing champion spurred a nationwide reckoning on a subject lengthy deemed taboo, the Greek arts globe has been swept up in a torrent of accusations and denials.

A variety of famed actors and directors have been accused of harassment or assault and eliminated from large-profile productions. The artistic director of the country’s prestigious Nationwide Theater resigned amid a barrage of reviews accusing him of sexual abuse and harassment, which he has furiously denied.

The bulk of the accusations — from males as very well as females — have surfaced in media reviews. Prosecutors in Athens are managing the most really serious circumstances and have vowed to investigate all credible allegations.

A judicial official, who would talk only on the situation of anonymity, explained he anticipated there to be additional circumstances, though it was unclear how lots of would go to trial, offered the passage of time considering the fact that the alleged incidents and a lack of proof.

The storm of accusations towards home names and respected figures in the Greek arts globe comes in one particular of Europe’s most conservative societies, exactly where this kind of abuses have lengthy been whispered about but in no way openly mentioned, allow alone prosecuted.

Final month, Sofia Bekatorou, an Olympic sailing champion in 2004 and one particular of the country’s most well known athletes, publicly accused a best sailing official of sexually abusing her in 1998. It was the initial large-profile accusation of sexual assault and abuse of electrical power in Greece considering the fact that the #MeToo motion rocked the established electrical power structures in lots of other nations.

Her selection to talk out opened the floodgates for equivalent claims and has spurred an uncharacteristically open and passionate debate about sexual harassment and abuse in Greece, exactly where, scientific studies propose, up to 9 in ten females encounter unwelcome advances in media, sports activities, politics and other male-dominated sectors.

In the globe of the doing arts, specialists say, the challenge is acute, and males are currently being targeted also.

The Greek actors’ union has acquired hundreds of cellphone calls in latest days from specialists alleging abuse.

Spyros Bibilas, the head of the union, advised Greek tv that actors have known as him “sobbing,” including that lots of of the alleged episodes occurred in the course of Greece’s decade-lengthy monetary crisis, when occupation insecurity peaked and persons have been specifically vulnerable.

In a statement earlier this month, a different union representing drama college students at Greece’s Nationwide Theater denounced “countless circumstances of workplace bullying and sexist violence” as very well as racism, homophobia and other kinds of discrimination.

In response to the complaints, Greece’s culture ministry explained it was overseeing an initiative to produce a code of perform for state-owned cultural institutions. The ministry has urged the nationwide actors’ union to report any circumstances of abuse to the authorities.

“There is zero tolerance towards the abuse of electrical power, sexual harassment, bullying, discrimination, and all kinds of violence,” the deputy minister for Modern Culture, Nicholas Yatromanolakis, explained in an electronic mail. “The cultural discipline is and should really stay a spot exactly where dreams, not nightmares, come correct.”

But some of the most large-profile figures who have been accused of abuse say they are victims of public hysteria, exactly where guilt is presumed.

The artistic director of the country’s prestigious Nationwide Theater, Dimitris Lignadis, resigned on Feb. six immediately after reviews suggesting that he sexually harassed younger actors. He denied these reviews. Due to the fact he stepped down, additional reviews of sexual abuse have been leveled towards him.

In his letter of resignation, which was manufactured public by the culture ministry, Mr. Lignadis referred to a “toxic climate of rumors.”

His attorney, Nikos Georgouleas, explained Mr. Lignadis was currently being unfairly targeted and vilified. Due to the fact his resignation, posters with his photograph have been plastered on bus stops in central Athens, warning that he will “pay for every thing.”

“He feels like he’s in the eye of this storm, with new rumors emerging each and every day,” Mr. Georgouleas explained by phone, including that Mr. Lignadis was prepared to “offer any explanations necessary” to prosecutors.

Messages sent to the Facebook accounts of other acting specialists dealing with accusations have been not answered, and even more efforts to attain them have been unsuccessful.

Harrys Tzortzakis, one particular of 3 male actors who have accused the movie director Costas Zapas of sexual harassment, spoke of an “omerta” in the market, employing the word for the Mafia’s code of silence.

In a statement on his Facebook webpage on Jan. thirty, Mr. Zapas rebutted the claims.

“I have in no way pressured any person to perform themselves in a way that they do not want,” he wrote.

Mr. Tzortzakis advised Greek tv final week, “We’re frightened of naming names in situation they sue us or who is aware of what else.” He known as on the Culture Ministry to make it clear that it stands by victims.

3 actresses issued a joint statement in late January accusing Kostas Spyropoulos, an actor and director, of sexual harassment. He issued a statement to Greek media by way of his attorney apologizing for offending any person, then sought an injunction towards Greek tv channels to bar them from mentioning his identify in conjunction with the airing of the statement, saying it was false and violated his rights.

Jenny Botsi, one particular of the 3 actresses, expressed gratitude to Ms. Bekatorou for breaking a broader silence. Ms. Botsi was one particular of lots of who explained Ms. Bekatorou had inspired them to come forward.

“She does not know how substantially very good she’s accomplished,” Ms. Botsi advised Greek tv. “She’s opened up a street and fortunately we’ve grasped the chance.”

7 actresses have accused a different prominent director and actor, George Kimoulis, of verbal and bodily abuse, although not sexual harassment. He has rejected the accusations as “unacceptable and false,” and is suing at least one particular of the actresses.

Even now, organizers of the well known Athens and Epidaurus Festival have eliminated Mr. Kimoulis from a perform scheduled to be staged at the ancient Epidaurus theater this summertime.

In a statement, the organizers explained they acted for the reason that of “the hefty shadow of latest developments.”

Even though the public accusations and subsequent departures have triggered turmoil in the arts globe, it remained unclear if they would ever be litigated in the courts.

The primary challenge for the accusers, in accordance to legal industry experts, is that lots of of the alleged abuses date back many years and prosecution may possibly be constrained by the country’s statute of limitations.

Underneath Greek law, rape can be prosecuted for up to 15 many years. As for sexual harassment, the offense expires 3 months immediately after the incident if legal action is not taken.

While a debate has began about amending the law to bolster safety for victims of intercourse crimes, legal industry experts explained it appeared unlikely that the government would make any sweeping improvements.

Even Ms. Bekatorou’s situation, which set off the recent wave of accusations, has been shelved by prosecutors.

Ms. Bekatorou explained that was why it was significant for victims to “break their silence with no delay.”

President Katerina Sakellaropoulou of Greece expressed her “great concern” about the wave of accusations.

“The one particular key advantage of this tough time period for the theater, and for other locations of the arts and other sectors, is the shaking off of worry,” she explained. It was equally significant, she explained, that justice is delivered “in purchase to restore the dignity and the influence of personalities and institutions that society demands so substantially.”

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