A Repeat Performance: “Mega event tactics” on Brazil’s sex Industry over the World Cup 2014 … and the Commonwealth Games 2014? (part 2)


This is Part 2 of a blog by Janine Ewan that follows on from last week’s blog regarding policing at the World Cup 2014 in Brazil and the Commonwealth Games 2014in Scotland.

Twitter:  @JanineEwen

Elections post mega event hosting

Brazil is facing general and state-level elections on October the 5th

Scotland’s referendum vote for independence is on the 18th of September

As a first time host for both, there is no doubt the games will be used as a political tactic in securing votes for these elections.

Policing and the existing controversy

Police Scotland has been under scrutiny over their policing tactics since the merger of Scotland’s eight police units under the Police and Reform (Scotland) Act 2012. A strong example of “harsh policing” has been stop-and-search tactics which have included targeting children as young as six.

Brazil’s police have a long history of corruption in drug trafficking, sealing deals between themselves and gangs that rule the favelas.

The police in both Scotland and Brazil have to regain the trust of their countries’ people, while rolling out extensive security operations for their own event.

Mega Event Policing: a double military operation together

The security operation for the Commonwealth Games will involve the deployment of 2000 military personnel (including support from the British army).

In Brazil, increased militarization, deployment of troops and controversial repressive tactics in police handling of protests and violent clashes in favelas, particularly those with Pacifying Police Units (UPPs) in Rio, are all dominant features of the current mega-event security operation.

The Rio State Military and researchers of the Scottish Institute of Policing endeavour to create a collaborative knowledge exchange that will influence the World Cup 2014, the Commonwealth Games 2014 and the 2016 Olympic games in Rio. Their public plans state that they want to create a joint legacy in mega event security.

Cleaning up the sex industry: the health and wellbeing implications and the leaps back for Public Health

The media promoted that Brazil and Scotland would face a surge in prostitution activity, as well as human trafficking claims.

Sex workers in Brazil and Scotland have seen brothels/saunas close which has put their safety in jeopardy.

Police officers in Brazil and Scotland have been called into question for their practices against the sex working community (police raids especially).

The atmosphere in Glasgow and efforts by organisations are opting for one route only; an exit out of sex work.

In Brazil sex work is either believed to be an illegal profession (this is not true) or it is heavily disregarded as an immoral profession.

Questions have been raised on the efforts between law enforcement and organisations working on the health and wellbeing of sex workers (violence against sex workers; the advice and guidance of the United Nations (the effects of criminalisation on the industry), the World Health Organisation (the 2012 public health recommendations on how to improve the health of sex workers, including government responsibility to ensure appropriate laws are in place) etc.

Police Scotland proposed to ban contraception on Edinburgh’s sauna’s before they closed – this also happened in New York City and had disastrous consequences.

Civil Society organisations I interviewed as part of my primary research project in Rio de Janeiro last year explained that even though HIV/AIDS was a prime focus for the Brazilian government to support sex workers, they did not feel as though there was enough investment to support sexual health initiatives. There was also reason to believe that healthcare professionals were hostile towards sex workers who came to seek advice on their health needs.

Health led services for sex workers in Glasgow have been significantly reduced e.g. the NHS Sandyford previously ran a dedicated clinic for women involved in prostitution, but this has now been closed.

Putting it into a “Public health” perspective

I can only speak from a public health perspective, but one of the first blogs I ever wrote online was for my University Principal’s personal blog entitled: “The meaning, importance and neglect of public health”. The reason why I wrote this was because I was putting into context 21st century public health in addressing some of the world’s more serious structural health problems. However public health, if we look back on its history, was not always taken so seriously.

Public health is ultimately about all of humanity – how we live together, how we view our shared circumstances and infrastructure (air, water, soil, food, housing water etc.), how we handle some of the necessitates of life. It is a field that provides a rationale for both good and bad health conditions. According to Charles-Edward Amory Winslow, it is ‘the science and art of preventing disease, prolonging life and promoting health through the organized efforts and informed choices of society, organizations, public and private, communities and individuals.’

Unfortunately public health is sometimes attacked as unnecessary or ‘nannying’, leaving it with reduced cultural visibility. While few could be against public health – the right to live in an acceptable state of health – when compared to other health aspects it is often low on the list of priorities.

David Hemenway, a US public health specialist working in the field of violence and firearms asks the question about the widespread ignorance of public health issues, he suggests it lacks profile because it sits alongside medicine, which has a far higher profile and much more funding. Clearly important medical treatment can be provided by doctors, nurses and other medical related healthcare professionals. Medicine is immediate and hugely effective, and people have engaged with it on a huge scale through acute observations/treatment in hospital and through GP practices. It is easy to identify with medicine, whereas public health is different. It doesn’t have such an immediate impact, and often it can be unclear whether lives have been saved or improved as a result of public health initiatives.

Things have changed, and now more than ever we have seen a dramatic shift in healthcare culture. We need public health to prevent health complications, develop long term sustainable solutions, to identify the gaps in research, to put forward evidence based practice at a local and national level, to influence our governments, to work collaboratively in partnerships, and lastly to address health for all groups.  Public health may even save the National Health Service in Britain.

We have come so far to prove the worth behind public health and give people more freedom to be actively involved in the health decision process, that if continued evidence as long as the consequences for sex workers over mega sporting events is dismissed, then are we about to witness the newly re-designed system of health collapse? What will evidence based practice mean in the future? Are we going to have to come up with more ways to justify evidence, research findings and recommendations? What will happen to the human value of our health and wellbeing…and our human rights?

2014 is going to be a disappointing year for sex workers, and who can blame them.


Isabel the Witness video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rHwQis5iDxQ&feature=youtu.be

Public Hearing on Niterói Case Confirms Illegal Actions and Egregious Police Abuses against Sex Workers http://www.akissforgabriela.com/?cbg_tz=-60&cat=3

Sexuality Policy Watch: ABIA disseminates a statement repudiating police action against sex workers in Niterói (RJ) http://www.sxpolitics.org/?p=9264#sthash.67zfSxN0.dpuf

Pictures of the damage caused by the police of the building in Niterói https://www.flickr.com/photos/124417521@N03/sets/72157644627498907/

A Kiss for Gabriela:  Official letter sent to the Director for the Promotion of Human Rights, State Secretariat for the Monitoring of the Social Welfare and Human Rights of Prostitutes. http://www.akissforgabriela.com/?cbg_tz=-60&p=3575

Red Light Rio (an interactive and on-going documentary) led by Julie Ruvolo http://redlightr.io/about/

Janine Ewen: Mega Sporting Events, Politics & Security in Brazil & Scotland in 2014 http://www.rioonwatch.org/?p=16050

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