By Maggie Andresen
In Rio de Janerio, all efforts are culminating to prepare for the 2014 World Cup which recognizes the country’s national sport and national pride. All walks of life are anticipating the influx of tourists who will arrive for the event, including the nation’s prostitutes. To brace for the inundation of English speaking foreginers, a pro advocacy group for prostitutes in Belo Horizonte has been offering free English classes beginning this month to prepere the ladies for fair negotiations and safety.
The nation is rushing to prepare twelve host cities for the international sports event, Belo Horizonte one of the cities slated to anchor the matches.. “When all this chatter about being ready for the World Cup started last year, we decided the women needed to be prepared for it too,” stated Cida Vieira, president of the Minas Gerais State Association of Prostitutes. “Many private-sector businesses across Brazil are preparing their workers for the Cup, and seeing as prostitution is a legitimate business in Brazil, I believe my association should do the same.”
Prostitution being legal in Brazil, the group offering English lessons intends to extend their serivces to offer classes in Italian, French, and Spanish to prepare for the influx of international tourists. Because some of the sex workers are not indigenous to Brazil, classes are also being offered in the nation’s primary language of Portuguese.
Previous World Cup tournaments have procured generous amounts of work for countless host nation’s ladies of the night. During the 2006 World Cup event in Germany and the 2010 World Cup held in South Africa, a rumored 40,000 sex workers traveled to each of the host countries in order to solicit serivce from the circa 500,000 football fans who attended each tournament. While these numbers are doubtlessly exaggerated, sex trafficking has always seemed to go hand in hand with Fifa events. Problems arose not in Germany where both prostitution and brothels are legal, but in South Africa where not only is sex work criminalized but education on protected sex and HIV transmission is still developing. Brazil does not share that problem, and is similar to Germany in its policy towards prostitution.
The English class sign up currently totals at 20; it is expected that at least 300 of the 4,000 members of the Association of Prostitutes in Belo Horizonte will take advantage of the opportunity, with more intending to follow suit. Several psychologists and doctors have also volunteered their services free of charge.
Backlash for the open classes has been minimal, a newspaper in Folha de Sao Paolo printed a indignant comment from reader Nereu Augusto, “Unbelievable…this is a country that wants to be taken seriously?” The prominent opinion however remains that the classes will be beneficial for the workers themselves.