Greek Person of the Year 2021: Sofia Bekatorou


Sofia Bekatorou (L) and her sailing partner Emilia Tsoulfa at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. Image credit: AMNA

Sofia Bekatorou opened the floodgates on allegations of sexual abuse in the fields of Greek sports, theater and cinema after exposing her own sexual assault by the vice-president of the Greek Sailing Federation in January this year.

Her allegations opened a year-long national discussion of sexual abuse in many facets of Greek society in the country, mirroring the #MeToo movement in the US.

Bekatorou bravely broke her silence and broke a wall of stigma and shame that prevented many victims from speaking openly about their experiences.

Grecian Delight supports Greece

Bekatorou is known as an extremely experienced sailor and has dominated her peers in the sport. At the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Bekatorou and her teammate Emilia Tsoulfa won the gold medal in the women’s 470 sailing competition.

After a serious back injury, the sailing champion won a bronze medal at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.

Sofia Bekatorou’s shocking report of sexual assault opens floodgates

After experiencing so many struggles to reach the peak of her sport, including physical pain from exercise and harsh weather conditions, Bekatorou never expected to face sexual harassment, she said during an online conference on protecting children and adolescents in sport called “Break”. the silence – speak it out – do not vouch for it. “

However, as a then-21-year-old athlete trying to climb the heights of Greek sailing, Bekatorou stated that she had suffered horrific sexual assault from a much older person associated with her team, whom she even called ” Father figure “had designated.”

This man, identified by Bekatorou as Vice-President of the Greek Sailing Association, Aristidis Adamopoulos, forced himself on the young sportswoman in the 1990s after she had repeatedly rejected his advances.

Bekatorou was afraid to speak up at the time, as Adamopoulos was a prominent figure in the sailing world and she feared losing opportunities or being excluded from her sport.

The athlete also feared that speaking about what happened could lead to the destruction of the dream she had worked so hard for.

Bekatorou found no way out of her pain except with another athlete she was dating at the time, but she asked him not to react or tell others.

Years later, after receiving therapy and becoming a psychologist herself, Bekatorou found the strength to talk about the attack.

Support for Sofia Bekatorou

Bekatorou received a barrage of support after revealing the traumatic event. Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis praised her for her courage to speak up on sexual harassment, writing:

“Sofia bravely broke the chain of fear and silence and showed the way how the stigma of guilt can pass from the victim to the perpetrator. So she became an Olympian of responsibility, on behalf of everyone: women and men, children and young people. “

Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou also praised the Olympic participant’s courage to speak out against sexual abuse in sport.

“To everyone who has suffered their trauma in silence for years and does not dare to denounce it because they know inside that they will be treated at best with pity or suspicion and at worst with contempt, ridicule and even social stigmatization,” said Sakellaropoulou in a Statement.

“I hope that your brave revelation will blow like a storm, sweeping away any hypocrisy, any attempt at cover-up … It is time to end the guilt of the victims and the impunity of the perpetrators,” she added.

“It is time to build a value system in which women are not treated as potential prey, their weakness is not taken as approval and their silence is not criticized as quasi complicity,” emphasized Sakellaropoulou.

Victims express themselves after Sofia Bekatorou’s bravery

Bekatorou’s courage to speak up resulted in a period of cultural change in Greece when many prominent figures in the country either went public for sexual assault or committed the heinous act.

First, other Greek athletes spoke about cases of sexual harassment and abuse, and then victims in other areas of Greek society began to speak out.

After Bekatorou’s allegations, a barrage of charges quickly rained on the heads of other prominent figures in Greece, including the famous Greek actor Giorgos Kimoulis, widely recognized as one of the best theater makers in the country.

In February, Dimitris Lignadis, an actor and former director of the Greek National Theater, was arrested for raping underage boys. This came after years of community whispering about the actor who many argue should have been heeded years ago to protect countless young victims.

The director and actor is accused of raping two boys and exploiting refugee children, one of the most vulnerable groups in the country.

Lignadis has been in custody since February on charges of sexual abuse and rape leading up to his trial; he denies the allegations.

“I have never expressed an erotic-sexual interest in minors, nor did I have erotic-sexual contact with minors with or without their consent,” he said when he was arrested.

He dismissed the allegations against him as “lies” and claimed that the allegations were “fabricated” by the board of directors of the Greek actors ‘guild in retaliation for Lignadis’ criticism of the association’s management and management of its finances.

Petros Filippidis, once one of Greece’s most beloved and beloved actors, faced his own fall on a scale previously unknown in the country after countless women who worked with him accused him of sexual assault in February.

At this point, the Greek authorities began investigating the actor’s alleged crimes.

Anger and disgust at the allegations made against the actor led many prominent organizations in the field of Greek film, television and theater to dismiss and sever ties with the comedian from all future shows.

He was then arrested in July for one rape and two rape attempts and is pending trial.

The actor was charged with three different women who had worked with him professionally in the past. The alleged rape is said to have occurred in 2008, the attempted rape in 2010 and 2014. The Greek actor denies all allegations.

Revenge Porn Case Triggers Conversation

As recently as last Monday, Greek TV presenter Stathis Panagiotopoulos was accused of uploading dozens of videos and pictures of an ex-girlfriend that were recorded without her consent.

The allegations came to light after an anonymous tweet was published that an ex-girlfriend of Panagiotopoulos, who starred on the popular satirical show Radio Arvyla, charged him with revenge porn.

According to her police report, the victim was made aware by a friend that a sexually explicit video with the woman had been uploaded to a pornographic website.

The victim found the video and searched the account that uploaded it. She was horrified to find that countless pictures and videos of herself and other women had been uploaded by the user who she thought was Panagiotopoulos. One of the videos had almost 100,000 views.

Then she looked up his username on other websites and found that he had uploaded the revenge porn to another pornographic website as well.

Panagiotopoulos was later accused of sexually abusing three underage girls and in 2003 an allegation made against him by a woman was published.

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