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.
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These women are being exploited by the people who run the zonas." "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). That's her choice and this is mine and I work the streets and prefer it there as I just like to be free.
"We deserve to be treated like anyone else working. And even before I tried this I liked reading about it and watching erotic films but I like the fetish, not the sex. Loads of the girls love what they do, they just don't tell people because of the prejudice. 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 don't like to be sitting there waiting like those in the zonas. I don't worry about it being more dangerous on the streets either.
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The headlines say that the sex workers of Brazil are preparing for the World Cup with English lessons and credit-card facilities.
Having become pregnant and seen the factory she worked in shut down, she took a job as a cleaner. In fact the worst part of it is probably that we have to pay 130 reais [£35] per day for a room each.
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. "I prostituted when my child was sleeping," she sighs. The owner makes the most money, so many girls rent an apartment so they make more, but for us that's too dangerous.
"But it was weird, lying there in a room as guys looked in your door before deciding. "We started by ourselves, nobody came to us and offered us," they say. 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. 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. 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.