If there were really one million prostitutes in Brazil, as this Independent article suggests, that would mean one in every 200 Brazilians was a prostitute.
More than that, considering half of that 200 are men, and assuming most prostitutes are women, it would mean one in every hundred women in Brazil was a prostitute.
Thousands of journalists are set to arrive in Brazil to cover the 2014 World Cup. Hopefully these journalists will dig deep into the country and leave aside the antiquated, colonial image of Brazil as a hyper-sexualised third-world country where everyone lives in a favela and sells drugs in between Samba and Carnaval.
What journalists and visiting tourists will actually find is that Brazil is a modern, technologically-advanced country full of entrepreneurs, lawyers, doctors and hard-working Brazilians working 14-hour-days to provide for their families and loved ones.
Brazil has its own Silicon Valley, super-fast broadband, some of the best (free) universities in the world and more progressive social policies than most western nations on issues such as obesity (a wave of public health education and stringent controls on fast-food and candy companies), workers’ rights (successfully lobbying corporate giant McDonalds to provide better working standards) and advertising (food and drink adverts aimed at kids labelled an “abusive practise”, and all outdoor advertising billboards banned).
So no, there probably aren’t a million prostitutes in Brazil. Prostitution is, however, legal, and always has been in Brazil, which protects sex-workers and allows them access to trade unions as well as mental and sexual health services. Pimping is – quite rightly – illegal in Brazil. It is hugely progressive to see a country take such a progressive approach to one of the “oldest professions” rather than hiding behind phony puritanism and snobbery.
If we’re talking about real problems in Brazil, let’s take a look at child prostitution.
Agencies such as Meninadanca operate in the poorer northern areas of the country where poverty is high and families sell their children to passing truckers and sex-tourists. The Sun wrote a story about a 15-year-old selling herself to tourists in Rio de Janeiro for £26 a time. She was rescued a few weeks before the World Cup starts. Thousands of children won’t be.
This photo was taken outside the World Cup stadium at Fortaleza a few weeks ago:
The sex-trafficking of thousands of Brazilian children is a real problem foreign journalists could be spending their time reporting. A completely-legal, trade union-certified profession involving adults old enough to make their own decisions, is not.