The World Cup is Not Helping Rio’s Prostitution Business

Tourists at the World Cup are showing a surprising lack of interest in Rio’s sex business.

Despite a massive influx of male tourists, the city’s prostitution business has taken a hit during the games.

A team of researchers from the Observatory of Prostitution, which is affiliated with the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, spent over 2,000 hours conducting ethnographic research in order to figure out the effects of World Cup tourism on Rio’s sex work business.

Out of 279 sex venues in Rio, only 16 have had better business during the World Cup, according to the research published in the recent report. Rio’s sex trade workers expected business to be booming during the month-long event; some even took English lessons to allow for smoother communication with foreign customers. But it doesn’t seem like the preparation has paid off. According to the report, the global recession and differences in foreign currency values have contributed to slower business.

“The tourists have even less money than we have,” one 24-year-old prostitute told USA Today.

Novelty is another factor. 80 percent of World Cup tourists are Brazilians traveling within their own country, which means they already have access to the legal sex industry.

Even for those who aren’t accustomed to legal prostitution, there appears to be little interest in exploring. Thaddeus Blanchette, a professor of anthropology and co-author of the Observatory’s report, has a theory. World Cup “lads” (aka “bros”) are too busy drinking and watching sports together.

“Lads’ culture doesn’t really need a trip to the whorehouse,” said Blanchette in USA Today. “You don’t need more whipped cream on top of whipped cream.”


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