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'Happy Prostitute' Ads Taken Down by Brazilian Government

By Clyde Hughes   |   Wednesday, 05 Jun 2013 01:57 PM

The Brazilian government is ending its online campaign to reduce the prejudice against sex workers and promote safe sex after admitting its "happy prostitute" ads sent the wrong message.

The online campaign, called "I'm happy being a prostitute," was widely criticized for glorifying the sex trade, officials said. Prostitution is legal in Brazil and the country has been taking measured image-conscious steps ahead of the FIFA World Cup in 2014 and Summer Olympic Games 2016.

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Other posters in the campaign aimed to support safe sex with such slogans such as "I cannot be seen without a condom, my love."

The country's health minister Alexandre Padilha dropped the campaign Tuesday, telling reporters he didn't think it was a message his office should be sending.

"The role of the ministry is to have specific content to encourage prevention among sex workers, who are a very vulnerable group," he said.

Brazil has experienced a boom in sex tourism in recent years, according to the BBC. Widespread poverty has also driven many boys and girls into prostitution at young ages, a problem Brazilian authorities are vowing to crack down on well before the World Cup and Olympics.

Prostitutes are hoping to capitalize on the potential windfall from the sporting events. In the city of Belo Horizonte, some have enrolled in free English classes to enable them to communicate with foreign clients. The courses are offered by the regional Association of Prostitution.

"Across Brazil, lots of businesses in the private sector are getting prepared and making their workers more qualified for the Cup. Well, this is a profession, too," Cida Vieira, the president of the association, told CNN.

Vieira said at least 300 women will eventually complete the classes in time for the World Cup. The association is in talks with teachers and English speakers to provide their services free of charge, similar to deals they have with doctors and health care workers. The classes will typically last six to eight months.

Brazil is betting big on the two sporting events, spending upwards of $33 billion on the World Cup and Olympics. Brazil's Ministry of Sports is predicting that 120,000 jobs will be created with an economic impact of $120 billion. Many experts believe, though, those totals are overestimated.

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