Tuesday, 3 June 2014
Are one of the most popular couples in the world and just celebrated four years of dating, surviving controversies, rumors, the spotlight of fame and critical looks. A relationship that has Cristiano Ronaldo, 29, a man more stable [this is his longest public relationship] and they did Irina Shayk, 28, a recognized name globally, making it one of the most famous and well dummies paid.
It was in May 2010 that came the first images of Madeira and the young Russian, aboard a yacht in the Mediterranean. The first two months were ruled by silence and press speculation.
It was also at this time that dating surpassed a major controversy when the star of Real Madrid announced on Facebook that he had been a father for the first time, wanting to keep the identity of the mother of the baby a secret.
In the first phase of the relationship, Irina Shayk tried to peel off the image of CR7, reaching prohibit the theme in interviews, but over time has been dropping this barrier.
Today, the couple has praised the media exchange. "She has what I look for in a woman: an exceptional body and beauty," said the footballer to Sport & Style magazine. But marriage does not seem to be in the immediate plans.
Incidentally, these four years, several rumors of marriage and pregnancy denials by Shayk, who already has the endorsement of Aveiro family, with whom he occasionally spends holidays.
Brazil's one million licensed prostitutes are reportedly preparing to cash in at the upcoming FIFA World Cup, where more than 3.7 million soccer fans are expected to pour in.
Although prostitution is legal in the South American nation, government officials will reportedly be monitoring the prostitutes, especially the underage sex workers.
According to News.com.au, a number of workers from the Brazilian city of Belo Horizonte are getting English classes from a volunteer to cash in on the six matches the city's Mineirao stadium will host, so that they interact with customers in nightclubs.
The prostitutes of Belo Horizonte will also be accepting payment on credit card during the tournament, while the report mentioned that a massage parlour near a city airport is reportedly offering a limousine service and hiring English speakers.
As night falls, Adriana de Morais patrols the clubs and bars of Natal, one of Brazil’s World Cup host cities, looking for underage prostitutes and trying to get them off the streets.
As she and her team weave between revellers in this tropical city known for its nightlife, their black polo shirts, emblazoned with the emblem of the local child protection unit, stand out amid the tight mini-skirts and colorful clothing of the crowds.
An estimated 600,000 foreigners are about to descend on Brazil for the World Cup, which opens June 12, and the authorities worry the influx will bring an increase in sex tourism and child prostitution.
“It’s a singular event that brings many people from outside, and we really worry about sexual tourism,” Morais told AFP.
No official statistics on underage prostitutes exist in Brazil. The only figure available comes from the government’s anonymous child-abuse hotline, which received 124,000 calls in 2013 — 26 percent of them for sexual violence against children.
Most of the calls came from the northeast, a poor region where turquoise waters and idyllic beaches are a major tourist draw.
A year ago, Taina was one of the girls walking the street here. Her story echoes that of thousands of Brazilian children.
Abused at home, she ran away at the age of 10. To survive, she sold sex in exchange for meals or money.
“We would go to Ponta Negra (a tourist neighborhood in Natal). My friends and I, we’d wait for cars to stop and call us and we’d go with them. A lot of times it was foreigners. There weren’t many Brazilians,” she says.
Today, at 18 years old, she is trying to build a new life. She is studying hotel management thanks to a program called “Vira Vida” (Change Your Life) that helps child sex workers.
Code of conduct
Leftist President Dilma Rousseff’s government has launched a campaign over the past few years against domestic violence, the sexual exploitation of minors and human trafficking — recently the main theme of a popular TV soap opera, “Salve Jorge.”
The country has a code of conduct for taxi drivers and hotel receptionists, a bid to crack down on child prostitution in the places where it is most visible. Officials are also plastering public spaces with awareness-raising messages.
“Every tourist who arrives in Brazil will know that the exploitation of children and juveniles is a crime. He’ll see it in airplanes, airports, bus and train stations and hotels,” said the head of child protection at the tourism ministry, Adelino Neto.
“A major event increases the risk factors for minors. We have an increase in tourists and alcohol consumption at a time when children are on vacation from school,” said Tatiana Akabane from the organization Childhood, which is working to help Brazil learn from the experiences of the previous two World Cup hosts, South Africa and Germany.
Fighting sex tourism
Prostitution is legal in Brazil for over-18s, but the government is also keen to discourage sex tourism.
It has sought to control the national image and combat sexual overtones in foreign products and advertisements.
In February, it managed to force Germany’s Adidas to recall a line of T-shirts with a football and a woman in a bikini that said “Looking to score — Brazil,” and another that said “I love Brazil” with a heart drawn to look like a thong-clad woman’s inverted behind.
“Brazil is happy to welcome tourists who arrive for the World Cup but also ready to combat sexual tourism,” President Rousseff wrote on Twitter.
But sex workers say they have a right to profit from the tournament.
“If there are going to be tourists and everyone’s going to make money — hotels, airlines, businesses — why shouldn’t prostitutes earn money from it too?” asks Roberto Chateaubriand of Davida, an organization that fights for sex workers’ rights.
“We also oppose the exploitation of minors, but the government has put everything in the same basket — the sexual exploitation of minors, human trafficking and adult prostitution,” he told AFP.
The world's most popular sporting event—to be held in Brazil next year—may be a magnet for sex tourists seeking underage prostitutes
Amanda sits curled up on the sofa watching cartoons on television. She will soon turn 14, but her youth belies her past. The young girl has suffered two abortions already, the result of exchanging unprotected, adolescent sex for a pack of cigarettes or a couple of dollars. “My life was complicated. I was on the streets and taking drugs,” she says.
Poverty in the favelas of the northern Brazilian city of Recife was the main driver for a life in prostitution. “I lived with my grandmother because my mom couldn’t provide for me. My grandmother also looked after my other siblings. She made me go out and sell gum on the streets, to help her provide for us all.” This was around the age of five. “I was in so much danger, exposed to so much, all because of money.”
Amanda remains in Recife though now lives with a family that has adopted her, under the care of a local charity. Yet, in Brazil where prostitution above the age of consent is legal, there are many more children selling sex like Amanda — 250,000, according to Unicef. Local charities believe that number is likely to grow as the country looks forward to next year’s World Cup. Brazil is already one of the world’s top destinations for sex tourism. The country’s age of consent is 14, however official reaction to sex with minors here can be disturbing. Last year a court in Brazil decided that sex with a 12-year-old did not necessarily constitute statutory rape, in part because the girls in question had worked as prostitutes. The ruling was described by Amnesty International as giving “a green light to rapists.”
In Recife’s downtown square, Praça do Diário, pre-pubescent girls sell packs of gum, just as Amanda described in her own past. Others, slightly older, wear tight dresses and seductively smile at passers by. Emmanuelle —who says she is 19, though looks much younger — is one of them. She is clad in a colorful and revealing dress. “I know girls here who are 10,” she says, talking about the prostitutes in the square. “I’ve been coming here since I was very young,” she adds, shying away from admitting exactly when this was. Recife is one of the 2014 World Cup venues and will host fans from the U.S., Mexico, Germany and Italy.
Thiago, 27, has worked as a pimp and trafficker across Brazil, convincing the mothers of girls like Amanda and Emmanuelle to hand over their daughters for some $5,000 to $10,000. “I sought the girls in Recife because there is so much poverty there,” he says in São Paulo, asking that his last name not be published. “It makes it way easier to convince the girls to come down and prostitute themselves.”
In São Paulo, underage girls would earn much more than they do on Recife’s streets. Clients would be charged some $60 for sex; the prostitute would take about half of that, minus debt for clothes, drugs, alcohol and cosmetics. “Realistically, the girl would get about a quarter of what the client paid,” says Thiago, who admits enjoying underage girls himself. “Alcohol and drugs would help the girls to deal with everything. They wouldn’t feel anything anymore. They’d just be objects.”
Thiago left the business after receiving death threats and eventually found religion. “I destroyed their lives,” he now admits. When asked whether he thought there was anything wrong with selling sex with minors at the time, Thiago is pragmatic. “Sex was sex,” he says. “For me, it was normal. The girls were looking for something—so were my customers.”
At hotels in Recife, it is possible to ask for a “menu” of local girls—some very young—and take your pick for the night. If they are not to the client’s taste, hotel staff and taxi drivers are able to point sex tourists in the right direction. “The foreigners are coming from Europe and the U.S.,” says Jonathan Costa, 25, a director at Shores of Grace, a religious charity working with prostitutes in the city. Costa and his organization oversaw Amanda’s rescue from the streets, a long process that began two years ago. “She asked me to take her to a salon and do her hair,” he says. “That broke my heart; that’s the dream for a girl on the streets! They’ll sleep with a guy just to have protection overnight because it’s dangerous out there,” he says, adding that his organization has found girls as young as eight working as prostitutes.
Brazil plays host to the World Cup soccer tournament in June 2014, which will likely lead to an increase in demand for sex workers. “We’ve seen more girls on the streets since the Confederations Cup began [in June this year],” Costa says. “That’s only the Confederations Cup, not the World Cup where this will increase hugely.” World Cup hosts often see an influx of prostitutes hoping to cash in on fans from around the world. Brazil is expecting some 600,000 foreigners for the soccer tournament, according to authorities here. Thiago, the ex-pimp, says that 70-80% of the clients at his São Paulo brothel were tourists.
The Brazilian government under President Dilma Rousseff has attempted to bring in some measures to both put an end to child prostitution and make life for older prostitutes safer. At major festivities such as Carnival in recent years, the government has distributed thousands of kits containing information on how to report child exploitation. However, the government’s more recent “happy being a prostitute” campaign, which aimed to persuade sex workers to use condoms, backfired when launched in June. “We are fighting childhood prostitution and here comes a campaign encouraging it,” said Federal deputy Liliam Sá at the time, according to Reuters. One NGO is currently helping by offering English lessons to sex workers but relatively little is being achieved to curb the industry in child prostitution, despite former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva making it one of his campaign pledges a decade ago.
Back in her safe house, Amanda looks forward both to her 14th birthday and life ahead. “I dream to have a husband and family. I’d like to be an engineer,” she says. But she keeps running back to her life on the streets. Says a disappointed Costa: “It is heartbreaking but it needs to be her choice to move on.”
The headlines say that the sex workers of Brazil are preparing for the World Cup with English lessons and credit-card facilities. But what is life really like in the country’s licensed brothels? Ewan MacKenna reports from the ‘zonas’ of Belo Horizonte, where England will play their final group match
In downtown Belo Horizonte are 23 brothels, known locally as zonas. They are hidden up narrow staircases between shops in the grim city centre, a place so grey, in parts, that you could be in the old Soviet Union except for the scorching sun above. Nearby, in an empty office on the top floor of a shopping centre, a handful of the 2,000 or so prostitutes who work the city are getting English classes from a volunteer in order to cash in on the six matches the city's Mineirão stadium will host (including one semi-final). All the while, tucked away at the back of an indoor car-park, is Aprosmig – a union for those within the industry in the state of Minas Gerais (the name is a contraction of the "Minas Gerais association of prostitutes"). "For sure [the city's prostitutes] will get more money with the World Cup," says the fiftysomething woman working the desk. "In the nightclubs they'll be earning a lot. It's normal for foreign guys to look for them, they always do, and now there'll be more foreign guys. They'll do very well."
Inside, pasted to a grubby wall are erotic photographs and charts of the body, notes about diseases, numbers for doctors and timetables for psychology sessions. As the woman potters about, she tells her story, a familiar narrative. Having become pregnant and seen the factory she worked in shut down, she took a job as a cleaner. But the family she worked for put pressure on, insisting they should adopt her child, and she felt she couldn't keep both job and baby, but neither could she go hungry. There was one avenue to walk down. "I prostituted when my child was sleeping," she sighs. "But it was weird, lying there in a room as guys looked in your door before deciding. I just remembered I had to bring food to my house and I had to pay bills so there was no choice. But I spent my life working in that room. I missed out on so much."
Occasionally, she pauses to assist the union members coming in from the early morning to collect the unlimited condoms their £2.60 monthly membership allows them. Among them are two sisters in their thirties. At first they're wary, but they agree to talk. "We started by ourselves, nobody came to us and offered us," they say. "Since we started we can eat what we want, buy the clothes we want. That's why we do it.
"But look, why feel bad? We're not here because we like it, but it's a profession and we're not going to be grumpy and be treating people badly. If we're there working, we'll be smiling. In any profession you need to be like that. And the sex is pleasurable, honestly. So if people look down on us we don't care. And when people ask, we tell them we're prostitutes, although often they don't really believe us. In fact the worst part of it is probably that we have to pay 130 reais [£35] per day for a room each. The owner makes the most money, so many girls rent an apartment so they make more, but for us that's too dangerous. So we prefer to pay."
To reach the zonas, clients and workers alike must pass by the bouncer sitting on a bar stool on the side of the street, go through a metal detector and ascend flights of stairs; what awaits is a like a cross between a run-down prison and a hostel even the earthiest backpacker would turn away from. The floors are bare concrete, while the corridor extends past door after door into cell-like rooms where women lie. There, a girl just out of her teens confirms it's safe before noting: "It's rare but sometimes men rape."
Meanwhile, the woman back at Aprosmig tells of a 62-year-old she knew who was murdered last year. "There was another stabbed to death, too. They found her in the bedroom bleeding. She spent a week in hospital but didn't make it. It was her boyfriend but violence isn't common; it's just that girls end up with bad guys like drug dealers."
Many might wonder why women take such risks, but necessity trumps choice in a nation of close to 200 million. The statistics are stark: illiteracy averages 10 per cent, reports say 13 million are underfed, 42,785 were murdered nationwide last year and there is a national shortage of 168,000 physicians. Prostitution was legalised in 2000. At the time it was suggested there were as many as one million sex workers, and while that may have been an overestimate, prostitution is undeniably widespread. At one point, the government's own employment website offered tips for those wishing to attempt prostitution, going step by step through preparation, seduction and delivery of service. It was later toned down after much pressure from conservatives and the religious right.
There are also those completely against it as a profession. Recently the female members of Brazil's major trade union federation, Cut, debated the issue with secretary Rosane Silva saying, "What we need is to fight for politics that take women out of this condition. We have to keep pushing for this because it's basic exploitation". At the same conference, Para Cleone, a former prostitute, added: "Of course I'm against this. These women are being exploited by the people who run the zonas."
Sex workers in Belo Horizonte, where some have been taking English lessons in preparation for the World Cup (AFP/Getty Images)
"Given the numbers and our dignity, it made sense to look for recognition," contests Cida Vieira, who is in her late thirties and chairwoman of Aprosmig (it was Vieira who was quoted widely last year in the world's press when she announced that the prostitutes of Belo Horizonte would accept payment on credit card during the World Cup). "We deserve to be treated like anyone else working. I used to work in the central bank here but different people like different things. In that other job, well, I hated the bureaucracy. It's so boring. And even before I tried this I liked reading about it and watching erotic films but I like the fetish, not the sex. Really, I love what I do, I never want to stop. Loads of the girls love what they do, they just don't tell people because of the prejudice. But I'm not ashamed. Everyone in my family knows, we talk about it openly."
Vieira mentions she has a daughter – how would she feel if her child became a prostitute? "I'd be very happy," she insists. "But she wants to be a businessperson. That's her choice and this is mine and I work the streets and prefer it there as I just like to be free. I don't like to be sitting there waiting like those in the zonas. That will never change. I don't worry about it being more dangerous on the streets either. The prostitutes have a great relationship with the police. They know us all and that makes a big difference," she insists. "Really, this is a great life."
But this life goes way beyond Belo Horizonte. With a total of 3.7 million tourists expected in the country for the World Cup, there have been lurid accounts of preparations across Brazil. In Fortaleza, a local prosecutor stated: "Foreign clients order underage prostitutes who are delivered directly by the hotels' pimps." Meanwhile, a massage house beside Congonhos airport is said to be offering a limousine service and hiring English speakers to improve service. In São Paulo, local reports have quoted a dental student who will earn $5,000 by giving exclusive attention to a German businessman for two weeks.
Back in Belo Horizonte, meanwhile, a founding member of Aprosmig, Laura Maria Do Espirito Santo, who is now in her early sixties, recounts a tale that's unlikely to feature in local headlines. "When I had my daughter, I lost my job. I told the father and he said, 'You can burn that child, throw it in a bin, kill it, whatever you want. Just don't bother me with it.' We were going out for a year and he was from the upper class. His mother was a lawyer, his father an engineer and he said I couldn't destroy his life because I was poor. I told him even if I become a prostitute, I'll have my child and raise her well, so this is what I had to do. But the first time I felt the worst humiliation, it's the worst feeling when a woman has to go to bed with a guy she doesn't want. But I had no real choice."
Approximately 2,000 women work in the sex industry in Belo Horizonte, and many still ply for trade on the streets (AFP/Getty Images)
Not only was she behind the formation of the Aprosmig, Santo has been a driving force behind its initiatives and partnerships with several universities as well as the city council, which offers regular health screening. But though Brazil's anti-HIV policies were recognised globally as a success in the 1990s, there has been concern expressed recently by activist groups that the disease is far from under control in the country. Santo, however, is adamant: "Aids isn't a big deal because this job is their livelihood and they have to look after themselves or they won't have work. They are given all the medical checks they need."
Each year there's even a Miss Prostitute pageant that she hopes lessens the snobbery. "There is still much prejudice, though, especially from housewives, because their husbands come to us," she laughs. And the English classes were her idea as well after she took note of the increased sex tourism during the Copa Libertadores (South America's Champions League). "The language gets you ahead. We are learning the basics. They say there'll be 200,000 tourists in Belo Horizonte so it makes a lot of sense."
In one zona, Santo stops continually to chat with the younger girls who stand at the doors of their rooms. "Those girls when they start, they are too crazy, they start making too much money. They have sex without condoms and sometimes they get boyfriends inside of here and that's when they get pregnant. Loads work until just before they have babies. As I say, they get crazy. They also fall in love, but with the wrong guys. They could have all the businessmen and they end up marrying a builder. I'm not discriminating but they should see the prostitutes that marry a rich guy. One married a judge and lives in luxury. Another got pregnant by a guy, married him and now has eight maids in her house." How many actually attain this particular fantasy is unclear.
But perhaps it's the impressive progress of Santo's own daughter that explains the thinking behind such a lifetime of dog-hard days. Having passed through two of the major universities in the city, she's now studying to be a doctor in Portugal. "I never asked anyone for anything," Santo stresses. "And it's been worth it when I see what my child has become. She's so beautiful and so smart, so why should I be ashamed? Why should any of us?"
The 34-year-old, who is currently with the Three Lions in Miami preparing for the World Cup in Brazil next week, has three daughters - Lilly-Ella, 10, Lexie, eight, and two-year-old Lourdes.
While Gerrard's other half has admitted that the couple would like a son, they believe that chances are slim due to their all-female brood.
"I know Steven has said before he would like one but the chances of us having one is slim with having three girls," Alex told Hello! magazine. "He laughs and says he can't risk it - it's going to cost him a fortune in weddings if we have another girl."
Alex also revealed that Gerrard will take photos of his daughters to Brazil because the family have opted to stay behind in the UK unless England reach the latter stages of the tournament.