Prostitution Policy Watch

Collaboratively filmed with over seventy sex workers, the RED LIGHT RIO project is an attempt to challenge traditional media narratives about mega-events and sex trafficking by giving the digital public unprecedented access to hear from women directly impacted by the mega-events – in their own words. To provide context for the interviews, this project translates, excerpts and draws heavily on the research of the Brazilian Prostitution Policy Watch (Observatório da Prostituição), an extension project of the Metropolitan Ethnographic Lab at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (LeMetro/IFCS-UFRJ), inspired by the late Gabriela Leite, co-founder of the Brazilian prostitutes rights movement, and organized by anthropologist Soraya Simões.

Subject matter experts contributing to the project include academics Soraya SimõesThaddeus BlanchetteAna Paula da SilvaGreg MitchellLaura MurrayCristiana Schettini, and Amara Moira, activists Indianara and Gabriela Leite; the Brazilian Interdisciplinary AIDS Association (ABIA); the Brazilian Network of Prostitutes (Rede Brasileira de Prostitutas); Davida, Brazil’s founding sex worker rights NGO; and Beijo da rua, a publication by and for Rio de Janeiro sex workers.

During World Cup 2014, the Prostitution Policy Watch logged over 2,000 hours of field work and interviews in 83 points of prostitution to assess the impact of World Cup on Rio’s sex industry. The Prostitution Policy Watch’s Preliminary World Cup Report indicates that the vast majority of sex workers in Rio de Janeiro considered the World Cup to be bad for business. Observatory researchers attribute the decline in business neither to the severe campaigns of police repression against the city’s sex industry that preceded the games, nor the mobilization of international NGOs to discourage foreigners from purchasing sex — but to a disconnect between inter-city migration patterns among sex workers and foreign tourists during 32 days of games. Download the report in English (link) and Portuguese (link).

The Prostitution Policy Watch re-convened for the Rio2016 Summer Olympics to assess the impact of the games on Rio sex workers. See below for preliminary reports and press releases in English and Portuguese.