tv Focus on Europe PBS June 22, 2015 6:30pm-7:01pm PDT
♪ damien: hello and welcome to "focus on europe," bringing you personal stories behind the headlines from all over the continent. i'm damien mcinnes. thanks for joining us. we have some really interesting stories lined up or you today. in switzerland, european union for workers and sex workers. iceland, where strikes are such a meaty issue. and in italy, new families for child refugees. one of europe's biggest achievements is called the schengen zone, set up exactly 30 years ago. this is the area across most of
the continent, which allows europeans to move freely between countries without all the checks, but it also leads to some and all of -- anomalies when it comes to the world's oldest profession, prostitution, which is banned in some countries but legal in others, such as here in germany or switzerland. but sweat -- sex workers pay their taxes and have access to health care and benefits just like any other job. they say the job should not be forced underground or stigmatized, but because the laws are so different across europe, some order regions become centers of prostitution, which is what has been happening in switzerland. qwest the swiss canton of ticino is famed for its natural beauty. lakes and mountains attract millions of visitors a year.
but now, the region near the account in border is attracting a different kind of tourist. it has become a haven for brothels and sex workers, who come to earn money legally. many are from eastern europe, and many cross into switzerland to work for short periods of time in brothels, like laura. laura: in italy, it is not legal, but in this place, you can go every day. they can work inside, and there's more safety. it is cleaner. >> in principle, swiss laws protect the women by granting them freelance status and social security. that is why prostitution has been booming over here ever since switzerland joined the schengen zone and opened the border, but some people here fear that a too liberal approach
to the sex trade will damage the image of the italian speaking canton. 4 years ago, the right wing league of ticino party was able to increase its position in the government on a ticket of prostitutes out. since then, they have tried to take away licenses from brothel owners. gobbi: the problem was that we had a proliferation of brothels without official building permits. you cannot house a brothel in a hotel or restaurant. if the visitors come in thinking it's really a restaurant in the and they are in a brothel, that's not good for our image. reporter: around 20 brothels near the italian border have enclosed, but that has not reduced in number of sex workers. they just had to find other ways of plying their trade.
marchetti: a lot of them have a permit to do their job, but there is not enough room for all of them, so they moved to private apartments. but if they can stay there long term, the communities will have to decide. reporter: and most of them say no. they don't want sex workers in residential areas. that has been one successful strategy in the regional government has effort to keep red like districts -- red light districts out. an organization that helps sex workers says fewer and fewer prostitutes are being given long-term work permits. the requirements have made more restrictive in the hopes of getting the women to return to their countries of origin, but that does not necessarily happen. marcionetti: these women have endeavored to work here
long-term. they have invested in the trip. some of them have given up their homes to come here. they just cannot go back to their countries without having been successful in their endeavor. so they stay, and they stay illegally. reporter: the new regulations and policies that are supposed to restrict prostitution have led to many of the sex workers ending up in the hands of pimps. that is the view of criminologist michel venturelli. venturelli: with the situation in flux, a woman who has authorization may be working in a place that is illegal, so she cannot call the police if she has a problem with a pimp because she could get thrown out. reporter: so far, laura has not had trouble with swiss authorities, but that may be
because she usually commutes back to her home in italy at the end of the day. she says the fuss over the brothels has been blown out of portion -- proportion. laura: [inaudible] i don't see this as a problem. reporter: the sex tourism business may or may not be a problem or citizens, but at any rate, it seems that in ticino, the world's oldest profession is here to stay. damien: legalize prostitution -- does that liberate women or dim in them? -- or demean them? let me think -- let me know what
you think about that or any of the topics on today's show. william wrote in from the u.s. to say that in his work as a therapist, he has found that watching reality shows in which people go through something traumatic can actually have quite a negative effect on your psychological well-being. lucy from the czech republic says she is more worried about participants, saying it is inhumane to put elderly people through such stress. thanks for all your comments, and do keep them coming. iceland may be small, but it seems to have a big talent for hitting the headlines. i've years ago, it was a volcanic corruption forcing flights across europe to stay grounded. before that, the country's banking industry was in the news for being one of the first big casualties of the financial crisis. now, economic growth is back, but wage growth is not. many still have large debt because of the crisis, so strikes have been called, and
the first industry to be hit is meat production. reporter: when he looks out over the meadow with his cows, he is normally content. this is his land with plenty of wide-open spaces for his cattle to rome, but right now, there are too many animals crowded into his cowshed. johnsson: he's 300 kilos now. he should be gone now. i would take out of each box two or three animals. reporter: but against his wishes, these galloway cows are enjoying a long life. the local slaughterhouse has been closed for weeks as iceland has veterinarians are striking. jonsson: they are on strike. they have been on strike for eight weeks now, which means there is no slaughtering because that's -- vets have a legal
obligation. it is a legal obligation that they certify the animals before slaughtering if they are healthy and all that and they stamp the meat, and when there are no vets doing that, there's no slaughtering. reporter: without any be to sell, he and his wife fear for their livelihoods -- without any meat to sell. they worry how they will survive financially. sarah: we'll have to think of something if things continue like this. jonsson: we need to negotiate with the bank. bills keep coming in each month, and it's getting tougher. sarah: it's getting tight. reporter: at this wholesale meat market in the capital, the shelves are empty. beef and pork are completely sold out. jakobsson: this hits us very
hard as our production is geared to fresh meat and we processed beef almost exclusively. now we are no longer able to offer the products that our customers demand. reporter: restaurant owners are feeling the pinch, too. this is high season for tourism in iceland. no matter what type of cuisine they serve up, restaurant yours are all affected by the lack of teeth and pork. thaipresert: if we can only offer chicken soup, in the long run, that is simply not enough. reporter: the cattle breeder has rented a store in this former fish house. his wife thought it would be a good idea to try selling their meat to customers directly in the city. jonsson: we plan to open next week. next weekend, there's a big festival here in the harbor area. we plan to use that to plug it a little bit, but since the strike has stretched out for such a long time, we had just slowed
the pace a little bit down. people are pessimistic. it's like -- maybe not like a war situation, but it is a catastrophic situation. no one knows what is going to happen. reporter: these days, protests are taking place across iceland. it's not just veterinarians who are striking. nurses and other professionals have also walked off the job. at times, it seems he entire country is out on the streets. >> i'm protesting against the government and want them to resign. they should have done that long ago. >> things would be much better if there were not such a discrepancy in income. our resources are being exploited, and only a few are profiting from it.
reporter: this discontent is a result of the financial crisis that hit iceland seven years ago. since then, much has changed. people's purchasing power has fallen. tourism is now a booming industry, as is construction. icelanders have undergone a transformation, too. sarah: a lot has changed. jonsson: people started thinking in words, instead of being materialistic. instead of going abroad, they stayed at home. they just bought a bottle of wine and a nice piece of lamb or beef and invited some friends. that is at least how it strikes me. reporter: he can live with that, but he cannot understand why the government is still offering irresistible incentives to foreign investors, like the ones who built an entire industrial park on the other side of the
fjord. he views the factories which produce aluminum and other products as a blot on the landscape. jonsson: that is like a snake in paradise. i think also that is why the tourists are driving through. because it's not nice to see. you don't come to iceland to look at the foreign factories. reporter: with any luck, the veterinarians will soon go back to work and jonsson will get to sell his meet again, but it looks like he will just have to live with the industrial park. damien: now to italy, which is seeing a massive influx of refugees who are crossing the mediterranean to flee war and oppression. since the beginning of this year alone, almost 50,000 people have been rescued and rickety, overcrowded boats, many of them children. but italy's government says the country is struggling to cope. some local authorities or even
refusing to take in more refugees. many local people themselves, though, are being more hospitable with families offering to provide homes to children who have lost everything. reporter: this apartment is the new home for this 18-year-old who has been living with the vinci family since february. his dangerous odyssey through africa and across the mediterranean to italy now seems like a bad dream. he was forced to leave his home in gambia when he was still a minor. civil war made his life in the western african country to dangerous. >> it used to be so nice with all the water, the sea, like here in messina. as children, we would swim all day long. reporter: now, katerina is taking care of him. while holding her adoptive son, she helps pa with his
schoolwork. katerina: pa did not attend school in gambia, so we've had to start from scratch with english and the other subjects. at least he did learn some italian. reporter: the vincis'four-year-old is originally from congo, and they clearly did not take pa in for financial reasons. they received just 400 euros a month for looking after him, and that only covers the bare essentials. antonino: pa is our second foster child. before that, we looked after a somali for a year. we try to do everything to make easy young people feel like a sons, not like strangers are guests in our home. reporter: and there are plenty of young refugees in mussina looking for a home. 124 in this deception center
alone. we meet the manager at the gate because we are not allowed to film inside. most of the asylum-seekers house here are from west africa. many are orphans seeking safety and security here in italy. pasquale: unfortunately, we can do little to help. the employees and government offices are simply overwhelmed. these young people often have to wait six months or a year for their refugee status to be clarified. so we ask young people to be patient and advise them to at least learn some italian in the meantime. reporter: in italy, there's increasing discussion about housing these young refugees in private homes. supporters say that would alleviate overcrowding in the reception centers. but the reality looks very different.
underage refugees have a right to legal guardian to help them when applying for asylum, but abdul from ginny and mamadou from senegal must share reputation with 50 other youths. there's no one to give them a sense of warmth and security. >> i've suffered enough. if i can find a new family here, a new father, mother, brothers and sisters, that would make me really happy. reporter: this lawyer says that would save the italian state money as well. housing a refugee in a reception center cost 4 times as much as placing them in foster homes. picciotto: the way underage refugees have been housed has been inadequate. that's why many have moved on to germany, norway, or sweden, where they get a better
reception and can hope to become integrated. reporter: this family is also hoping for a change in attitude from italian authorities. they've been trying to take in a nigerian refugee, but so far without success. for now, the boy has been transferred to a reception center in another city. maccari: we want to help but have received no reply from the authorities. that is hard to take. a boy is waiting, and we can do nothing about it. everything is ready and waiting. joseph will sleep here. we will put a bed in here. this will be his room, right next to his sisters'. my daughters are already expecting him. reporter: here's a picture that should help him feel at home. maccari: the kids cannot wait.
on weekends, they want so much to be together. reporter: every day, the family hopes the letter will come telling them that joseph can live with them. de pasquale: it can take a lot of patience and commitment before foster parents in italy can take and a young refugee. it can soon turn into a personal mission because otherwise, visiting all the government offices with all their forms and stamps would prove unbearable. reporter: young refugees like him could find a new home with emily's like the -- with families like teh vincis and maccaris, but come located met -- complicated regulations make it difficult. damien: it's exactly years since the balkans were hit by the worst floods in more than a century. more than 80 people were killed
and millions affected as homes and bridges were swept away. at the time, the authorities are accused of not doing enough to help people cope with the floods, but a year on, some argue there still has not been enough done to help. across the region, the root floods causes are not being tackled and in some ways are being exacerbated. reporter: may, 2014, houses slid down the banks. animals and tracts of land slid down the banks. hundreds of thousands of people in bosnia, croatia, and serbia fled the high waters. this family am croatia managed to get away just in time. their neighbor did not make it. lucic was not home when the banks burst 100 meters from his house. lucic: my wife called me and said our levy is broken. i figured it wasn't a problem. we could plug it with sand sacks
, but when i got here, it was a shock. reporter: this is the broken dam. the sava river flooded the entire village. in the meantime, the embankments have been repaired and shored up. grass has been planted on the spot, but lucic still does not feel secure. lucic: this part of the embankment had already been repaired before the flood. it was completely new. it should have been safe. but if it even new dams can burst, how can i feel safe? reporter: the family has nowhere else to go. they do not have enough money. both parents are out of work. the house they inherited cannot be sold. who would want to be -- who would want to start over in this flood risk area?
in the past, the risk of flooding was much smaller because the oncoming water was absorbed by this forest 30 kilometers upstream. this environmentalist tells us the wetlands could have reduced the damage in the towns downstream, but that's no longer possible. mikuska: unfortunately, there's an embankment here like everywhere. that separates the sava from the floodplain, the forest, a former zone. this hardly another one that size in europe, and it's hugely important as a flood protection area. reporter: but it's unlikely that the dems will be dismantled. the idea behind them was to protect the forest itself from flooding so that loggers would have dry wood all year long. for the government in zagreb, the interests of the forest industry come first.
the agriculture minister says restoring the wetlands on the sava is not an option. this is what he had to say a year after the devastating flood. jakovina: in those places where our studies show that such catastrophes are likely to be repeated, we will build new embankments. even bigger embankments. reporter: environmetalists call that irresponsible. it makes no sense to build new embankments when eu regulations are calling for rivers to be re-nature rated, but rivers are viewed primarily as economic resources. in this commercial, hydroelectric power is being celebrated as clean energy. hydropower is a noble energy, but hydroelectric plants are harmful to ecosystems according to this environmental activist, who has marked construction projects on the sava and other
projects in the area with red dots. >> it looks like the result, but it's a lot worse. each red dot is a power plant project. -- it looks like the measles, but it's a lot worse. our initial findings show that the area between slovenia and albania has around 2000 planned hydroelectric lance. reporter: according to environmental ngo bank watch, the money for these come primarily from western europe. for instance, in albania where a hydroelectric plant is going up in a national park on a tributary of one of europe's remaining untouched rivers. the european investment and finances it indirectly via a fund created with germany posta veltman bank, despite the fact that you live bands development and national parks and that albania is an official candidate for eu membership. back in croatia, at least six
power plants on the sava river are in planning stage. all of this will impact the wetlands and aggravate the risk of flooding along the river. the previous flood victims are determined not to accept that. a citizens group has started a lawsuit to force authorities to find those responsible for the 2014 flood disaster. the lucic family and 3000 other residents of the flood hit areas support him. djakovic: i will fight this to the end because i do not think it's right for the events of last year to be slowly forgotten . reporter: after a year in temporary quarters, the lucic family are soon moving back to the sava with trepidation because they no longer feel safe in their home. damien: that's all for today. do get in touch with any comments, but in the meantime,
>> glad to have you with us on this edition of "news line." i'm katherine kobayashi in tokyo. people in okinawa are the leaders met in brussels on monday to discuss new propels made by the greek government. the greek president alexis tsipras offered government changes to retirement packages. international creditor haves been pressing greece for