Rio de Janiero is known for many things: parties, parties and sex that flows freely. Prostitution is legal in Rio and when the biggest sporting event in the world lands on your doorstep, you would expect that the parties would be magnified and the sex business would be booming. Not so. In fact, prostitutes in Rio say the World Cup games actually hurt their business.

From USA Today Sports:

A 24-year-old prostitute, whose working name is Luna Ferrari, said she left her job as a massage therapist in the high-end neighborhood Barra to try her luck amongst the expected influx of foreign tourists in Copacabana to pay off debts. Ferrari, like many women involved in the research, asked to not give their full names, often saying their families do not know about their profession.

She said the World Cup has hardly been the boom she hoped for, and that many tourists have come from Latin American countries with weak currencies and haggle over prices lower than what a Brazilian would pay. “The tourists have even less money than we have,” she said dryly.

A sex worker wearing a Brazil soccer jersey celebrates a goal by Brazil on a pole used for pole dancing as she watches the World Cup quarterfinal match between Brazil and Colombia in the Vila Mimosa area of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Friday, July 4, 2014. Brazil won 2-1. (AP Photo/Leo Correa) ORG XMIT: XLC114

A sex worker wearing a Brazil soccer jersey celebrates a goal by Brazil on a pole used for pole dancing as she watches the World Cup quarterfinal match between Brazil and Colombia in the Vila Mimosa area of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Friday, July 4, 2014. Brazil won 2-1. (AP Photo/Leo Correa) ORG XMIT: XLC114

Part of that reason is due to world-wide economic recession. The dollar certainly doesn’t carry the weight it once did and people just aren’t wiling to pay as much. Also, the internet and technology has made it easier for people to get what they need and setup meetings online, bypassing brothels and other sex houses.

A research team from the Observatory of Prostitution, which is affiliated with the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, has mapped out 279 sex venues in Rio. Only 16 have seen an increase in business during the sporting event, the researchers said. 

The internet has led to what researchers call the “privatization” of  prostitution leaving the massage parlors and spas dry–literally. When sex-trade is legal, this becomes a problem:

The business of prostitution operates in tricky legal grounds here. An adult accepting money for sex is legal, but for a third party to benefit from the transaction, such as a brothel owner or a pimp, is illegal.

With all the research done by the Observatory, I hope there’s a follow-up. Legal sex doesn’t make it any less dangerous. I wonder what STD numbers look like after the World Cup games.

What do you think?

Your Jersey Girlfriend,

~Angela Davis