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  • FILE PHOTO: Brazil

    FILE PHOTO: Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro and President of the Supreme Federal Court Dias Toffoli attend a swearing-in ceremony for the country's new army commander in Brasilia, Brazil January 11, 2019. | Photo: REUTERS

Published 1 May 2019

The President of Brazil tried to dissuade gay tourists from making Brazil a destination, and then offered his country's women up for sex.

Six Brazilian states have rejected a recent statement made by Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro about how Brazil should not become a destination for gay tourism. In his comments, he then offered up the women of his country by saying, "Anyone who wants to come here and have sex with a woman should feel at ease," a statement which outraged advocates for women and tourism experts.

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The six Brazilian states of Pernambuco, Rio Grande do Norte, Maranhao, Paraiba, Bahia and Espirito Santo repudiated the president's statement and started an awareness campaign against what they consider an invitation to the world to engage in sex tourism in Brazil.

One such poster, which has been adapted to each state, read "Maranhao is at the disposal of tourists. The women of Maranhao are not!"

Organizations like the Bar Association of Brazil (OAB), MPT Women, the National Association of Labor Attorneys (ANPT), the Brazilian Association of Jurists for Democracy (AJD), the Feminist Lawyers Network (Defemde) and dozens of other entities and collectives signed a public petition to call out Bolsonaro’s statement.

"It was an extremely misogynistic statement," asserted Renata Deiro, president of the OAB Women's Rights Protection Commission in Bahia. "He offers women up as merchandise. As if they were a tourist attraction of Brazil when, in fact, we have fought this for a long time. It was an extremely unfortunate statement by a public offical, a person who should preserve Brazil's image abroad, but instead encourages men to believe that Brazil is a place where you have easy sex and the bodies of women are available," she admonished, noting that the president's stance encourages rape culture.

Deiro doesn’t like the term sex tourism because it ignores the reality. In addition to the struggle to end violence against women, Bolsonaro's statement may actually encourage abuse against black women, who are even more objectified and sexualized by foreigners due to racism and sexism.

"It is a misnomer because there is no sex tourism. There is sexual exploitation of girls and women. Brazil is sold as a place where women's bodies are explored through tourism. There are travel agencies, teams assembled for the purpose of sexually satisfying tourists. Recently, at the World Cup in Brazil, there was a tourism campaign in Argentina that said: 'Women, here we go'. As if we were a prey, an object to be pursued," said the the OAB BA spokesperson.


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