While a FIFA fan fest raged in Rio de Janeiro’s ritzy Copacabana neighborhood last week, a few blocks away Brazilian sex workers were having their own party. Sex workers and their political allies wore shirts designed to look like soccer jerseys, silkscreened with phrases like “Vai Ter Copula”—a pun on the protest phrase “Nao Vai Ter Copa” (“There Will be No World Cup”) that translates to “There Will Be Sex.”
Sex workers have occupied a unique place in the protests and festivities around the World Cup. Sex work is legal in Brazil, where sex workers even qualify for social security benefits, as is sex tourism. But the government cracked down on the industry leading up to the World Cup. On May 26, just before the start of the games, police raided an apartment building in downtown Niterói and arrested over 100 people—sex workers say their money was confiscated and several people reported being beaten or forced to perform oral sex on police. In response, sex workers and their allies took to the streets in protest, even playing a game of semi-naked soccer outside Niterói’s municipal building.
Brazilians feared that the thousands of fans pouring into …read more