Interviews 1

Trafficked in Portugal

Patricia, a sex worker in Rio’s red light district, has traveled abroad multiple times over the last 16 years to work in in Spain’s sex industry.

On her last trip she went to work in Portugal, and as she described it, “This trip was fucked.”

She didn’t keep any of the money she made, and was held against her will at the club – circumstances that bona fide qualified her as a trafficking victim. When she escaped, she went back Spain to earn enough money to get back on her feet. And when she came home, she went back to work in Rio’s red light district.

Most people assume the profile of a Brazilian sex trafficking victim – let’s call her Maria – is a young, naive, poor girl of color from the interior, who accepts a dream job abroad as a domestic worker – only to find she’s been tricked into doing sex work and can’t leave. And if we could just find her, we could rescue her and bring her home safe.

The problem is, nobody is sure if she actually exists.

But we know Patricia exists.

In a rare account from a Brazilian woman who has actually been trafficked abroad, Patricia talks about what it was like to work abroad in Europe, what went wrong on her last trip, and how she got back home.


Read on:

Is sex trafficking a problem in Brazil? Anthropologists Ana Paula da Silva, Thaddeus Blanchette and Andressa Raylane Bento unpack how a nation with legalized prostitution defines and punishes sex trafficking. (link)

What’s the profile of a Brazilian sex trafficking victim? Da Silva et al explain how the common face of Brazilian sex trafficking is not at all representative – and why that’s a problem for Brazilian prostitutes working abroad. (link)



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