Brazil supplying Portugal’s prostitution industry.jpg

Brazil supplying Portugal’s prostitution industry

BRAZILIAN WOMEN make up the majority of prostitutes in Portugal, claims Fernando Flores, an inspector from the Serviço de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras (SEF), a security service under the Ministry of Home Affairs.

Prostitution in Portugal was discussed at an international conference that took place in Lisbon’s Parque das Nações.

According to Flores “there has also been an increase in prostitutes from China and Nigeria coming to Portugal, but a reduction in the number of women from Eastern Europe mainly Russia, Ukraine and Moldavia.”

The inspector from SEF described the massive amounts of money involved in the industry saying that in Portugal it is possible to make up to 20,000 euros in three months.

Portugal is further becoming a popular destination for prostitutes due to the lack of legislation in regards to the industry. Prostitution is legal in Portugal, but procurement of prostitutes is not. In Portugal, prostitution is linked to all kinds of organised crime, particularly to international drug trafficking.

According to the SEF, most of the women active in the industry are between 18-24 years of age, with little educational background. Their clients are usually businessmen aged between 20-50.

The trend of increased trafficking of Portuguese women abroad and foreign women to Portugal has been a worry for governmental officials for some time. Many organisations are pressuring politicians to make prostitution illegal in order to put a stop to the alarming rate of foreign women travelling to the country. Under the Portuguese penal code, trafficking is punishable by two to eight years in prison in Portugal.

Although the exact number of prostitutes in the country is unknown, it is believed that half are foreigners, who travel to Portugal with the knowledge that the conditions in which they will be treated in this country will be better than in their home countries.

In order to combat the lack of data on the topic, Elisabete Santos, co-ordinator of the Pilot Project in the Area of Prostitution and the Trafficking of Women (Caim) is launching a national study to try and regulate the industry.