Monday, August 04, 2008

Black Men & Sex Tourism in Brazil

From NPR:

Ed Gordon interviews William Jelani Cobb, professor of history at Atlanta's Spelman College, about a growing number of African-American men who are traveling to Brazil and seeking out prostitutes. Cobb wrote an article in the September issue of Essence magazine titled "Blame it on Rio" on this subject.

Read Professor Cobb's article Blame it on Rio


  1. Anonymous5:36 PM

    I read the article. Its a fantasy they play out. Its all a lie, of having the beautiful, submissive woman to do whatever he says...for a price. So they go and hire "wives" for a week ( which is illegal in Brazil)
    Whats the difference between a woman who sleeps with him for his money over there, versus a woman who sleeps with him for his money over here? Its dirty and its wrong and its his way of having his cake and eating it too. AIDs and children are not an issue Im sure, just ass...well that is until your dead.

  2. Anonymous12:42 PM

    Yes can't have a man be happy..that would be against the American Women's Code....

  3. Thaddeus Blanchette2:09 AM

    My wife, Dr. Ana Paula da Silva and I have studied sexual tourism and prostitution in Rio de Janeiro for close to seven years now, and we find the distortions and misrepresentations that are present in this article quite disturbing.

    In the first place, prostitution is not trafficking of women. Prostitution is a legal profession in Brazil, recognized by the ministry of labor. To presume that prostitution and trafficking are one and the same thing is simply ridiculous: the first is a legal and ever-more regulamented activity in Brazil. The second is an illegal activity which involves the violent or coercive repression of human rights.

    Secondly, there are some serious factual issues with Professor Cobb's "research". Let me list them...

    1) Cobb does not speak Portuguese and his total stay in Rio can be measured in days.

    2) In his article Cobb implies that there is a significant tourism-orientated pedophilia scene in Rio. This is simply not true. In seven years of research, we can count the number of children we've seen offering sex for sale on the fingers of one hand. In every case, these children were on the street and well removed from interactions with the foreign tourists who congregate in bars. As is the case with every nation, the people who prey on children are natives, in the vast majority, and are generally family members or authority figures who have intimate access to the child's life. Recent research by the Brazilian Association for the Protection of Children and Adolescents (ABRAPIA) indicates that far many more religious figures in Brazil have been accused of sexual contact with children than foreign tourists. The belief that the beahces of Rio are full of foreign sexual predators looking for children is simply that: a myth.

    3) Cobb mentions the rate of exchange and poverty as a main motivating factor behind sexual tourism. For three years now, the rate of exchange between the dollar and the real has been the worst it's been since 1996. Furthermore, the cost of commerical sex in the Copacabana district (where some 80% of sexual tourists go) is roughly the same in most U.S. American cities. Finally, our research indicates that the majority of the women working Copacabana are not Brazil's "poorest of the poor", but rather lower middle class and working class women. These women are not in "dire economic circumstances" as Cobb claims. Rather, prostitution offers them a shot - however small - at a middle class and independent lifestyle. We have confirmed this in interviews with close to a hundred Copacabana prostitutes.

    4) While AIDS has increased in Brazil over the last few years, there is no indication that it has increased any more for prostitutes than for the population at large. It is almost impossible to buy unprotected commercial vaginal or anal sex in Rio. When Cobb associates prostitutes with the spread of STDs, he is mobilizing a prejudice that is as old as Typhoid Mary and with exactly ZERO data to back him up. You're probably more likely to contract an STD with a non-commerical middle-class pick up in Lapa than with a prostitute in Copa. Why? Middle class heterosexual men and women who have sex "for love" or "for fun" are notoriously lax when it comes to safe sex, something they associate with "gays and whores".

    If anyone would like to discuss prostitutiuon issues in Rio de Janeiro with us, they can contact us through our blog at:

    Thank you.