Staff conducting research: Professor Michael Silk, Dr Amanda De Lisio
Media speculation often points to heightened demand for sexual services around sporting mega events, such as the Olympics. These reports tend to be used to justify policing and rationalise displacing sex work from the public spaces.
Professor Silk and academic collaborators from Rio de Janeiro, Toronto and Kings College London undertook the first ever funded academic study that looked at the impact of the Olympics on sex workers. The project was centred on Rio de Janeiro during the 2016 Olympics and found that sex workers were forcibly evicted and displaced, with public discourse conflating forced migration and sexual exploitation with adult, consensual sex work.
Displacing sex workers during sporting mega events can have wide-reaching consequences for their safety, particularly in Brazil, where sex work is a legal profession. By providing an evidence base on the regulation of informal sex economies during these events, this project elevated the voice of sex workers in Brazil and shaped policy.
The research findings informed a submission to the United Nations Human Rights Council, which documented human rights violations against sex workers in Brazil during the staging of sporting mega events, leading to a number of recommendations being adopted by the Brazilian government.
These recommendations have now been incorporated into federal law, committing themselves to including human rights education in schools, creating domestic violence centres across the country, running an awareness campaign and setting up a hotline to report cases of violence against women.
Find out more