Since January, Greece has experienced a wave of revelations about sexual assaults, comparable to the international #MeToo movement that developed as a result of the Weinstein case in the United States at the end of 2017. On Monday, February 22, actresses and actors demonstrated in Athens to demand the resignation of the Minister of Culture after the revelations of sexual abuse in the world of theater.
By RFI Athens correspondent Joël Bronner.
The wave of revelations of sexual abuse in Greece began in mid-January, after the testimony of one of the country’s most recognized athletes: Sofia Bekatorou, a former Olympic sailing champion, opened Pandora’s box by revealing that she was sexually assaulted by a responsible for her federation when she was a young athlete almost 20 years ago.
These statements made a lot of noise in Greece, where the athlete was received by the President of the Republic, Katerina Sakellaropoulou. Revelations of sexual assaults quickly multiplied, beyond the world of sports.
The world of culture on the front line
In recent days, the world of culture, especially theater, has been greatly affected by these revelations. Several cases came to light, but the case that aroused the most emotion and reactions is that of the former artistic director of the Greek National Theater, Dimitris Lignadis.
Lignadis resigned earlier this month when rumors began to circulate. This weekend he was finally arrested – waiting to be heard by a judge – accused of a series of rapes of minors. Due to his important position and the seriousness of the charges, this case quickly acquired a political dimension.
Lina Mendoni, the Minister of Culture, publicly stated that she had been “misled” by Lignadis, whom she now describes as a “dangerous person.” This did not prevent that, on Monday morning, a hundred actresses and actors demonstrated to demand their own resignation for having appointed him in 2019 to head of the Greek National Theater.
Several years after #MeToo
Why is this #MeToo-like movement appearing only now in Greece, several years after a first wave of international revelations? The simplest explanation is that Greece remains a relatively conservative society in which, until now, issues of morality and sexual harassment were considered taboo.
An Arts student demonstrating this Monday told RFI that these things are not traditionally discussed in Greece, and that people tend to mistrust the victims. But the young woman has the feeling, and the hope, that things are changing.
Also, an actress was happy about the end of a kind of law of silence and thought that the number of cases was going to increase. The #MeToo wave in Greece could still be in its infancy.