I'm not a prostitute. I don't sell sex for money. However, when I tell people from other countries that I'm from Brazil, after a little while they start asking me about the the promiscuous stereotype of the Brazilian woman. That subject makes me unbelievably sad, so I though in addressing it in a post.
That stereotype comes from a couple images: one, from Carnival, when in the parades, women get half naked. Two, women supposedly wear little clothing in Brazil. Three, from many Brazilian "sex workers" (this is between quotations for the reasons I'll explain later) that are found in Europe and the United States, but mainly Europe.
The first one is absolutely ludicrous. Carnival in Rio is a huge, HUGE celebration. And you have street parties and the big parade at Sambodromo, which mainly celebrate the communities that work for entire year to make that happen. Now, the parade itself it's artistic celebration. They got grades and the best qualified parades get to present themselves in the Champion's parade. It's not just about naked people, there is a context. Comparing to the nakedness (I may be inventing that word ) that happens in the Mardi Gras in New Orleans (not using in a derogatory manner, just using for comparison purposes ), those parades are pretty tame. In the street parades there aren't naked people, but there is lot of fun.
Regarding the second one. Women don't walk around half naked in Brazil, if you were expecting that, you'll be really disappointed. At beach areas with have a more informal dress code. Bikinis and sun dresses or Bermuda shorts. It's not that different from any beach place in the world. Because it's hot and there is no point on going to the beach fully clothed - seriously.
The third point actually breaks my heart and it's the main topic of this post. Those "sex workers" are usually trafficked women. So, it becomes another episode of blaming mostly victims for a business that in Latin America only - according to the International Organization for Migration - has profit over 16 billion dollars, and let me tell you, they are not the ones that the money is going to.
So how do we change this?
How do we help not only to break this stereotype, but also help possible victims?
Get informed on the sex trafficking industry. Knowledge is power.
I'm sharing with you 3 publications that, for me, were very informative: - Trafficking of Women and Children for Sexual Exploitation in the Americas of the Pan-American Health Organization - I know there is a large American audience here so, SEX TRAFFICKING OF WOMEN IN THE UNITED STATES of the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women - And for my fellow Brazilian friends, this is in Portuguese PESQUISA SOBRE TRÁFICO DE MULHERES, CRIANÇAS E ADOLESCENTES PARA FINS DE EXPLORAÇÃO SEXUAL COMERCIAL NO BRASIL
And one of the best PSA I have ever seen, Torture by any other name. Or just check it out their short film - The Journey.
Don't be a part of the problem
Don't hire prostitutes or buy porn. Sex trafficking is the fastest growing criminal activity today. Just assume, the prostitutes are trafficked women, because stats show, they likely are. Sweden was manage to curb sex trafficking by controlling the demand side as well as dismantling networks. Being honest, as long as there is a demand for it, people will find a way to make a profit out of it.
Be a part of the solution!
Share your new found wisdom with others. Be am activist, even if though the web. Donate to the cause. Buy at the Body Shop. Report any suspicious activity. There are many ways to help. For more information, check out: http://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/human-trafficking/index.htmlhttp://actioncenter.polarisproject.org/take-action/featured-actions http://www.helenbamber.org/ http://www.humantrafficking.org/combat_trafficking http://www.sagesf.org/html/issues_main.htm
I guess my overall point is that we (human beings) are doing this to ourselves, so WE have the power to stop it.
Last thoughts (I promise)
Everything must be taken with a grain of salt. There is no country where all women are promiscuous or puritans. Is like saying there are countries of all women like red. People are different and so are their preferences. We shouldn't be quick to judge or to perpetuate that kind of imagery, because stereotypes can be extremely dangerous, especially if they help feeding criminal activities.