Guardian journalist Dawn Foster writes about women and Athos. Here is a part of her article. Read the complete article here.
Plotting to get on the peninsula doesn’t get me very far. In order to enter Athos, you must apply for a pilgrim’s pass, or “patriarchal privilege”. I’ve spotted a fancy dress section in a shop at the top of Aristotelous Square, selling ostentatious fake beards and moustaches. Could this work? It seems not. I need to show my passport, and there is a very authoritative black “F” under the “Sex” section of mine, giving me away. I could parachute into Athos. But I lack the time or money to rent a helicopter and learn to parachute. Besides, I’m having horrific visions of landing chaotically, taking out a few monks and having to explain that I did it for feminism.
After boarding a bus, and trekking to Ouranoupouli, the departure point for ferries to Athos, I approach the harbour. Yiannis, who works in the harbour and is easily bribed with a takeaway frappé into speaking to me shakes his head when I ask him if it’s possible to get to Athos. “Why would you want to?” I like a challenge. He laughs again. “The boats will take women no closer than half a kilometre to the beach. Some people say women have swum there, but I have never seen them”. Swimming! Of course. Apparently there are men patrolling the shores of Athos, watching for this sort of stunt. Though if the EU parliament presses ahead with legislation that will force Athos to admit women, having declared in 2003 that the republic “violates the universally recognised principle of gender equality”, they may need new jobs.