How The World Cup Affects Brazilian Sex Workers

by Savannah O'Leary
Alexandre Schneider/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images

In addition to increased hotel rates and sky rocketing food prices, the cost of prostitution in Brazil is expected to rise as a consequence of the World Cup and the massive influx of tourists that will come with it.

The Wire explained that garment, television, and alcohol businesses are also expected to experience a boom as a result of the World Cup, and you could include prostitution in this grouping of industries that will experience a financial influx due to the games.

Sex workers have even begun taking English lessons in the hopes of impressing their foreign suitors, reports say. Cida Vieira is president of the Association of Prostitutes in the city of Belo Horizonte, which is organizing the classes and seeking volunteer teachers. "I don't think we will have problems persuading English teachers to provide services for free," she said. "We already have several volunteer psychologists and doctors helping us."

Also reporting from Belo Horizonte, Brazil's third largest city, Ewan MacKenna described the bleak situation faced by Brazilian residents, circumstances that may play a role in women turning to sex work to make money.

Many might wonder why women take such risks, but necessity trumps choice in a nation of close to 200 million. The statistics are stark: illiteracy averages 10 per cent, reports say 13 million are underfed, 42,785 were murdered nationwide last year and there is a national shortage of 168,000 physicians.

3.7 million tourists are expected to travel to Brazil for the World Cup. A local prosecutor speaking to MacKenna expects many of these foreign clients “to order underage prostitutes who are delivered directly by the hotels' pimps." Furthermore, the World Cup is affecting the exploitation of illegal minors. Indeed, children and teenagers living in poverty were being offered close to $7,000 to be available at all times to tourists during the 15 days of World Cup.

For those of you who sympathize with the protests regarding the government’s abandonment of impoverished Brazilians in favor of preparations for the World Cup, you may cite this as one more reason to complain about the negative consequences of the impending tournament. Though there are myriad benefits to legalizing sex work, and these women have every right to make a living this way, it is problematic when they are being driven to this way of life because of widespread poverty and unemployment — and unacceptable if underage children are getting involved.