(via Red Light Rio)
RED LIGHT RIO is a story about independent women in unlikely places.
The project is a threaded conversation with fifty women working in Rio de Janeiro’s red light district on the eve of a massive prostitution crackdown to sanitize the city’s image before the tourists arrive for World Cup 2014 and the 2016 Summer Olympics.
Over the course of a year, Julie Ruvolo, a journalist living in Rio, and Aline, her friend working in Vila Mimosa, Rio’s red light district, filmed conversations with prostitutes, brothel management, bartenders, cleaning ladies, manicurists and food vendors who support themselves and their families with the money they make in the Zone.
The project is an attempt to give the wider public unprecedented access to hear from some of society’s most marginalized and misunderstood members – in their own words.
A former Craigslist call-girl-turned-schoolteacher-turned-writer describes the world that awaits people who leave the sex trade:
After working in the sex trade for around seven years, I met a guy I sort of liked. He had a major problem with what I did for money. Getting to know him stopped as soon as it started. That’s when I knew: I no longer wanted to sell “the girlfriend experience,” as we called it in the industry, in other words, selling sex but acting as if the guy and I were on a “real” date. I wanted to be an actual girlfriend. I wanted to use the academic degrees I had worked hard to earn. For me, I realized, sex work and the “straight” life couldn’t mix. I wanted out—just like so many critics of the sex industry would advise.
That wasn’t so easy. I faced a constellation of challenges that made transitioning out of the trade incredibly difficult. It took me multiple tries to leave sex work for good. When I left in 2007 to become a public-school teacher in New York City, I ultimately lost my job after blogging about my past. Today, in honor of International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers, I’m here to tell you about another kind of indignity sex workers face—not on the job, but when they leave the trade.
Whether sex workers love, hate, or feel ambivalent toward their job, most don’t intend to work in the industry forever. But the complicated reasons people enter the trade—including but not limited to economic factors—are the same complicated factors that make it difficult to leave.