Prostitution in Brazil

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  Prostitution legal and regulated
  Prostitution (the exchange of sex for money) legal, but organised activities such as brothels and pimping are illegal, prostitution is not regulated
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Prostitution itself (exchanging sex for money) in Brazil is legal, as there are no laws forbidding adults from being professional sex workers,[1] but it is illegal to operate a brothel or to employ sex workers in any other way.[2]


Recent reliable estimates on the total number of sex workers are not available.

Exploitation of child and teenagers through prostitution in Brazil is widespread and a serious problem. Brazil is considered to have the worst levels of child sex trafficking after Thailand, with an estimated 250,000 children involved.[3][4] The phenomenon is closely related with high levels of poverty and inequality in some areas of the country.[5] According to the recently released Protection Project report, various official sources agree that from 250,000 to 500,000 children live as child prostitutes.[citation needed]

The government of Brazil is working stringently to clamp down on child prostitution.[6][7]


Prostitution itself (exchanging sex for money) in Brazil is legal, as there are no laws forbidding adult sex work,[1] but it is illegal to operate a brothel or to employ sex workers in any other way.[2]

The illegality of these types of houses is almost a contradiction, considering that most of the sex workers can’t afford to work in an autonomous way.

The houses might be illegal, but aren’t unusual in Brazil. Most of them are full of corruption and sexual exploitation. Having this in mind and an eye on the 2016 Olympic Games that will be hosted by Brazil, the federal deputy Jean Wyllys presented, in 2013, the Gabriela Leite project of law. A project that aims to regulate the sex worker profession and rights.[8]

The project would not only put an end to the terrible situations which sex workers are subjected to, but would also help to avoid child sex trafficking and human trafficking for sexual exploitation. The Gabriela Leite law also emphasizes the urgency to regulate brothels and makes a clear distinction between: sexual services and sexual exploitation.

In 2002, pressure by the sex worker organization Davida contributed to the Brazilian Ministry of Labor adding "sex worker" to an official list of occupations.[9] Professional sex work is not regulated in any way (no mandatory health checks, no licenses are issued etc.), but sex workers and call girls can contribute to the official government pension fund and receive benefits when they retire.[10]

Fernando Gabeira, founder of the Green Party, has been a strong voice for sex workers' rights in Brazil and introduced legislation in Congress to recognize sex workers as a profession. The bill was defeated in 2007.[11]

Brazilian sex workers have campaigned for the repeal of laws criminalizing the maintenance of whorehouses and pimping. Those offenses carry sentences from two to five years in prison. They demanded that they should pay social benefits and get all the privileges like any other worker. The National Network of Sex Professionals (Rede Brasileira de Prostitutas) [12] was angry at the Beijing's (4th) International Conference on Women for their condemnation of prostitution. Their leader, ex-prostitute and sociologist Gabriela da Silva Leite, said that she had classes with sociologist Fernando Henrique Cardoso at University of São Paulo, who later became Brazil's president.[13]

Government website[edit]

The government's website on sex workers Brazil’s Labor and Employment Ministry Primer on Sex Professional, which describes sex work as labor, has been the source of controversy, with some accusing the government of encouraging professional sex work.[14][15] People accuse the site of teaching sex workers how to "get an encounter", advising them to "become visually appealing; wait in place (to wait for someone who didn't promise to come); seduce with the look; approach the customer; charm with the voice; seduce with affectionate nicknames; conquer with the touch; involve with perfume; offer the customer specialties; recognize the customer's potential; dance for the customer; dance with the customer; satisfy the customer's ego; praise the customer"[citation needed]. However, this is not the purpose of the site at all. Rather, the Ministry of Labor site simply lists all of the characteristics of prostitution as work: i.e. what a prostitute is typically expected to do in the course of his or her labor. The site in no way encourages or "advises" about prostitution.

The press reported at the end of 2008 that a government official has announced that the site would be "toned down", following criticism by the media.[15] The law professor Luiz Flavio Gomes has told the O Globo newspaper in its online edition that "What is on the site gives the impression of an apology for sexual exploitation."[16]

"Professional of sex" is described as follows: "They [the sex worker] works on their own initiative, in the street, in bars, night-clubs, hotels, harbor, highways and in garimpos (gold prospecting places). They act in different environments: open air, closed places and inside vehicles, in irregular schedules. In the exercise of some of their activities they can be exposed to vehicles gases, to bad weather, to sound pollution and to social discrimination. There are still risks of getting STD infections, bad-treatment, street violence and death."

It is also stated that: "For the exercise of the profession is required that the workers take part in workshops on safe sex, offered by the category associations. Other complementary courses of professional formation, such as, beauty courses, personal care, budget planning, as well as vocational courses for alternative sources of income also are offered by the associations, in several states. Access to the career is open to those who are 18 or older; the average education is between fourth and seventh grade. Full performance of activities occurs after two years of experience."[citation needed]


One of the most famous brothels in Rio de Janeiro was the Casa Rosa, which some have advocated being made a national landmark or museum.[17]

In the 2000s, sex worker Bruna Surfistinha gained media attention for her blog where she told of her experiences with clients. She became famous and wrote an autobiographic book, O Doce Veneno do Escorpião (São Paulo, SP: Panda Books, 2005).

According to a poll taken in 1998 (19 years ago), 64% of the population thought professional sex work was immoral and should be made illegal, whereas 29% saw it as a job like any other. Fifty-nine percent (64% of women) believed that sex workers do what they do because they like it.[18]


In 2003, it was estimated that about 6% of Brazilian sex workers were infected with HIV. Gabriela Silva Leite, the executive director of Prostitution Civil Rights, says that because of information campaigns, condom use among sex workers is high.[2]

The Brazilian government turned down $40 million in U.S. anti-HIV/AIDS funding in 2005, because the U.S. government required all recipients to sign an anti-prostitution pledge. The Brazilian anti-AIDS program employs sex workers to hand out information and free condoms; Brazil's AIDS commissioner Pedro Chequer was quoted as saying "Sex workers are part of implementing our AIDS policy and deciding how to promote it. They are our partners. How could we ask prostitutes to take a position against themselves?"[19] A Washington Post article stated that the Brazilian anti-AIDS program is considered by the United Nations to be the most successful in the developing world.[20]

Sex workers abroad[edit]

High numbers of Brazilian sex workers are found in some regions of Argentina, Chile, Surinam, Uruguay, the United States and Western Europe, including Portugal, Spain, Netherlands and the United Kingdom.

Sex tourism[edit]

The Brazilian government is increasingly frustrated with the fact that a number of foreign tourists travel to Brazil for sex tourism,[21] including child prostitution.[22]

Sex tourism exists throughout the country, but it is most apparent in coastal resort towns in the Northeast, South, and Southeast, and in major tourist destinations such as Rio de Janeiro and Fortaleza, Ceara, as well as in the wildlife tourist areas of the Pantanal and Amazon.

A 2006 University of Brasília study found that approximately one-fourth of the 1,514 tourist destinations frequented by citizens had an active sexual commercial market for children and adolescents and also found, in combination with the SEDH and the UN Children's Fund, commercial sex involving children and adolescents in approximately one-sixth of the country's 5,561 municipalities.[3] In 2014, an English NGO announced they would run advertisements on British flights to Brazil to discourage tourists paying for sex with children during the FIFA World Cup.[23]

Human trafficking[edit]

Women are trafficked from all parts of the country. The government reported that trafficking routes existed in all states and the Federal District. The National Research on Trafficking in Women, Children, and Adolescents for Sexual Exploitation Purposes identified 241 international and national trafficking routes. Persons exploited in trafficking schemes typically come from low-income families and usually have not finished high school.[24]

It is estimated that Brazil is responsible for 15% of women trafficked in South America, a great majority being from the North and the Northeast.[25]


  1. ^ a b Brazil – Country Reports on Human Rights Practices – 2005, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (USA Department of State), 2006-03-08, retrieved 2008-08-08 
  2. ^ a b c Gabriela Silva Leite, PBS Online NewsHour, 13 July 2003
  3. ^ a b 2009 Human Rights Report: Brazil. (2010-03-11). Retrieved on 2011-05-09.
  4. ^ "Highway of hell: Brazil's child prostitution scandal". 2013-11-26. 
  5. ^ de Oliveira, Selma B. (1995), Child prostitution on the rise in Brazil, International Child Resource Institute, retrieved 2008-08-08 
  6. ^ Brazil to fight sex tourism as Carnival nears, China Daily, 2004-02-12, retrieved 2008-08-08 
  7. ^ Brazil struggles to curb sex tourism, BBC News, 2004-12-02, retrieved 2008-08-08 
  8. ^ "Prostitution in Brazil and the World Cup 2014". All you need to know about Immigration and Relocation to Brazil. Retrieved 2015-10-25. 
  9. ^ Von der Sexarbeiterin zur Prostituierten, Lateinamerika Nachrichten, November 2005. (German)
  10. ^ Rohter, Larry (2005-07-24). "Prostitution Puts U.S. and Brazil at Odds on AIDS Policy". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-05-22. 
  11. ^ "FOCUS Information Agency". Retrieved 8 October 2016. 
  12. ^ "index". Retrieved 8 October 2016. 
  13. ^ [For a free body market Rapidinhas Brazzil Nov 1995]
  14. ^ Want to Be a Prostitute? The Brazilian Government Can Teach You How. (2006-07-09). Retrieved on 2011-05-09.
  15. ^ a b Denver Post: Brazil to tone down prostitution website. (2008-10-29). Retrieved on 2011-05-09.
  16. ^ Official website gives tips to prostitutes. (2008-10-29). Retrieved on 2011-05-09.
  17. ^ "Brazil - Brasil - BRAZZIL - News from Brazil - Debora Rodrigues in Playboy, Ratinho, No Bathroom in Rio, Folha and Estado Feud, Fernando Henrique Cardoso, Andrea de Oliveira - Brazilian Behavior - November 1997". Retrieved 8 October 2016.  line feed character in |title= at position 107 (help)
  18. ^ Author unknown (1998-02). RAPIDINHAS. Brazzil, February 1998. Retrieved from
  19. ^ Just Say Não, The Nation, 12 May 2005
  20. ^ Where Prostitutes Also Fight AIDS, Washington Post, 2 March 2006
  21. ^ Brazil maps child prostitution, BBC News, 2005-01-27, retrieved 2008-08-08 
  22. ^ Gentile, Carmen J. (2005-02-05), Brazil cracks down on child prostitution, San Francisco Chronicle, retrieved 2008-08-08 
  23. ^ ROB HARRIS (2 April 2014). "Brazil Child Prostitution Warnings To Air On World Cup Flights". Huffington Post. 
  24. ^ 2008 Human Rights Report: Brazil. (2009-02-25). Retrieved on 2011-05-09.
  25. ^ Brazil – Brasil – BRAZZIL – News from Brazil – Human Trafficking to Europe – Brazilian Prostitution – February 2004. Retrieved on 2011-05-09.

External links[edit]


Migration, tourism and trafficking[edit]


Sex Workers' Organisations[edit]