Social Control in Times of Crisis: The Case of the Seropositive Persecuted Women in Greece

Maria Gkresta, Manuel Mireanu


This paper will examine the role of the Greek authorities in presenting seropositive, illegal, immigrant prostitutes as a perceived threat before the 2012 elections. In doing so, the authorities took exceptional measures and performed serious breaches of human rights. Claiming to be taking precautions to protect society from a potential future AIDS epidemic, the state disclosed repeatedly to the media sensitive information and mug shots of the alleged offenders. However, as this paper will show, the authorities’ choice to present the women as dangerous provided an opportunity of controlling more than just a small, ‘deviant’ group of the society (illegal sex workers). Instead of containing the (perceived) risk, the authorities’ measures led to panic, and the women were presented as a threat to the integrity of the Greek family. In linking risk assessment, control of the population and technologies of knowledge, the paper will argue that the women were framed and criminalized as immigrants and non-citizens. Moreover, there is always a spectacular event, like the “uncovering” of the seropositive women in Greece that sets in motion the processes of threat articulation and risk prediction.


Security; Greece; Sex workers; HIV/AIDS; criminalisation; risk

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