|OK the garotas down the road don't quite|
look like Julia Roberts...
When people come to visit us in Butanta they inevitably take the road past the Jockey Club where dinner conversation then centers around the 'garotas da programa' who line the roads around Cidade Jardim and Butanta (up to 2 blocks away from our front door). I tell everyone, that working girls (and boys*) are everywhere in Brazil - they might just not be so noticeable in Jardins or Itaim, but they are certainly there!
I haven't had much of a nightlife since we moved here so I haven't seen much of this myself. For high end call girls there is Cafe Photo, Alucci Alucci of Hotel Fasano and Skye Bar at Hotel Unique. There is also the Love Story where all the girls go AFTER they finish work and just want to go for some fun.
From what I understand prostitution is not illegal here but pimping is (correct me if I'm wrong!). I am not pro-prostitution but at the same time I believe in controlled legalisation - the girls need to be safe and 'safe', and it would remove aspects of criminality from it (pimps, drugs, human trafficking**). I use to travel to Bangkok alot for work and spent most evenings in a bar with colleagues, talking to the girls working there. We come from such different backgrounds but their view of what they do is so different from how we (western attitudes) see it. The girls I spoke to were proud to be working girls, that they are not looked down on and infact earn 4 times more than the average salary in Thailand. They can provide for their families and still have spending power after that.
I haven't done much research here in Butanta ... obviously they're not going to be wanting me hanging out on the corner with my baby stroller but I'm so curious. I would love to take some portrait photos and talk to them about their lifestyle choice, why they do it, their backgrounds etc.. but so far the closest I've come to chatting with them is mouthing 'não obrigada' with a shake of the head when they peer in the car window as we drive by. If anything, I guess I should thank the Brits for my polite upbringing.
* Note that the 'girls' around the Jockey Club are known to be very beautiful transvestites
**I am not saying all would be eradicated but for my argument's sake I've simplified it.