Brazilian prostitutes learn English for World Cup fans

May 04, 2013, 04:42 IST | AFP

"Good morning, girls!" Igor Fuchs exclaimed as he greeted his students at the start of English class in this southeastern Brazilian city. But this is no ordinary crowd and the curriculum, for the most part, is focused on sex props.

Fuchs teaches English to prostitutes so they can give a warmer welcome to tens of thousands of football fans headed here for June’s Confederations Cup, as well as next year’s World Cup.

Igor Fuchs (right) gives a class to sex workers in Belo Horizonte. Pic/AFP.

The city’s 80,000 sex workers are counting on brisk business as authorities predict 40,000 tourists will be in town next month for a total of three matches between June 15-30. A whopping 140,000 are expected to follow for the World Cup.

With that in mind, the Association of Prostitutes has been offering free English classes to its members at a local mall since March. “We teach basic expressions but also have demonstrations with erotic paraphernalia so they can learn the names, how to use them and propose them,” said Fuchs.

The goal, says association president Cida Vieira, is to provide prostitutes with communication skills to keep clients who don’t speak Portuguese happy — both during the upcoming sports extravaganzas and beyond.

“We deal with ‘gringos’ (foreign men) daily on the streets and in discos,” Vieira said. “We want to train the girls so they can better serve them.”

In demand

So far, 300 prostitutes have signed up. Attendance is irregular and older women like 55-year-old Maria Aparecida, who has been in the business for almost three decades, tend to come to class more often than others.

“I have always wanted to speak English,” she told AFP. “I raised my kids by doing this job.” Demand is definitely there — on both sides of the booming sex trade. “Tourists are going to flock here and those who come from abroad like to spend,” said 26-year-old Vitoria.

But not all are sold on the need to speak English — or any other foreign language for that matter. “I have never had American or French clients,” said Yasmin, a transvestite.

“I know basic words such as ‘good morning’ and ‘condom’,” said 31-year-old Juliana. “For the rest, I get by with gestures. All men are the same. They come for the same thing. No need for words.”

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