Monday, December 28, 2015

The Avaton on Mount Athos

Many today talk about the prohibition of women to visit Mount Athos, located in Northern Greece. It is the only place in the world where women are not permitted. It is not only a building or a town, but a whole peninsula. The avaton principle has been faithfully observed by all the Monasteries of Mount Athos without exception ever since they were founded. The Athonite community has retained its status for millennia, being an autonomous, self-governed part of the Modern Greek State. It is the only place in the world were Byzantine time is maintained.
Many women during different periods have attempted, and some achieved, to enter Mount Athos, only to be deported shortly after. Deportation is the only measure taken against a woman who violates the avation. The avaton is still a reality on the Holy Mountain, due to the fact that the monastic community wishes to respect and preserve tradition. Mount Athos is the Virgin Mary’s Garden, where She is the only woman permitted to be there.


The customary origin of the avaton is also confirmed in the legislation in force, namely Article 186 of the Constitutional Charter of Mount Athos (1924), effective since 1926 through its ratification by the Greek State by the Legislative Decree of 10/16 September 1926. According to this provision of the Constitutional Charter, the entry of females in the Athos peninsula is, according to the ancient custom, forbidden. However, from the point of view of public law, this provision was a lex imperfecta, since it did not provide for sanctions in the event of violation. Only the measure of deportation from the Mount Athos territory could be taken against a woman violating the avaton.
However, this provision was subsequently complemented by a law penalising the violation of the avaton, as a result of the disembarkation of several ladies on the Mount Athos territory during the 9th International Congress of Byzantine Studies, convened in April 1953 in Thessalonica. Legislation Decree 2623/1953 stipulated that the violation of the avaton incurs a penalty of imprisonment for a period between two months to one year, which, according to the general provisions of the Penal Code, can now be commuted into a pecuniary penalty.
For more details on the Mount Athos Avaton please visit the following link: http://www.myriobiblos.gr/texts/english/konidaris_avaton.htm


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