By Harold Emert
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – In reaction to a recent statement by Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro criticizing gay tourism, yet encouraging tourists to visit Brazil “to have sex with a woman,” Brazil’s northeastern states and entities protecting women are reacting against sexual tourism.
In six states, including Paraiba, Bahia, Espírito Santo, Pernambuco and Rio Grande do Norte, advertising on social networks the regions’ lovely beaches in the background, have sounded the alarm advising that tourism is meant to see the beautiful sites and not locales in which to pick up impoverished adolescents peddling their sex cheaply.
Women’s protection groups, researchers, attorneys, and social entities have signed a petition on the internet to repudiate Bolsonaro’s defense of heterosexual sexual tourism during a breakfast with Brazilian journalists.
Brazil’s best-selling novelist Paulo Coelho has sent out on his Twitter account huffs “sexual tourism is not a reason to visit Brazil.”
A retired professor at the School of Administration at the Federal University of Bahia, José Gomes de Pinho, called the President’s statement “lamentable” which reinforces the image of Brazil as a sexual paradise.
In an interview with Rio’s O Globo newspaper, Professor Gomes de Pinho, who has researched sexual tourism in his state, said: “People do not know who the preferred enemies of the President are: gays or women. It is regrettable that authority thinks in this way, implying that Brazil is a territory for prostitution, for free sex.”
In the past, not only have Brazilian women and minors been victims of sexual tourism but many women have been recruited under pretenses for supposedly legitimate jobs abroad.
They often end up as sex slaves, unable to pay back their recruiters/employers for the airline tickets and expenses, who have flown them from Brazil to other parts of the world, including the USA and Britain.
Speaking about the low numbers of complaints to Brazilian officials about sexual tourism, Professor Gomes de Pinho adds: “Those exploited are poor adolescents without professional credentials, usually not enrolled in school. They usually come from broken homes and for this reason are on the street seeking a way to survive.”