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The working girls of Rio's Vila Mimosa red light district are offering cut-price 'specials' for England fans 'because 'they have travelled so far. Many see our Three Lions supporters as a source of extra income, and some have even signed up to the trade especially for the competition.
Flags are out, the girls are in tiny football bikinis, thongs and England tops and fast food vendors and kebab stalls are ready to cash in on visitors. Campaigners have warned that people traffickers promise to sweep women off to the UK only to enslave them as prostitutes again 5, miles from home. It is illegal to pimp a prostitute or to operate a brothel, so the bars of Vila Mimosa are used as a front to hide the back-street sex dens. Girls lean out onto the streets as lines of punters arrive by taxi, scooter or on foot.
Thumping music blasts out with tiny dance floors inside. And outside there are dark, dank alleys decorated with the Brazil colours and flags. I know there will be a lot more custom for the World Cup. I use the money to support my family, pay the rent, the bills. Of course I want Brazil to win, and I know it is going to be busy. Suelen has only been living in the city for six months and says she moved to Rio for work.
We have five to six clients in one shift, it just depends on how busy we are. It should be far more during the World Cup. Vila Mimosa is next to a slaughterhouse and meat market, and behind the main street is a warren of alleys where girls ply their trade. All the bars in the area have numbers, with Mel and Suelen working in 62 on a long shift that runs from 8pm to 8am. The district has been running for 16 years, though attempts have been made to make it more respectable for the four-week festival of football, with outside barbecues, bunting and TVs in bars.
On the main thoroughfare at the heart of the red light district, women in various states of undress pole dance or pose provocatively for long lines of passing punters. Here there is none of the traditional Brazilian pageantry of the carnival, nor the glitz and glamour of the expensive World Cup opening ceremony.