An exploratory/descriptive study of 33 migrant Hungarian prostitutes who travel to Switzerland for sex work was conducted in Zurich by Hungarian social workers in cooperation with Swiss social workers. A new methodology (Hungarian Street Work Interpersonal Support) was developed to compare support networks both at home and while working abroad. Vulnerability and potential risk were mapped, finding networks at ‘home’ being supportive and non-risky with the opposite occurring ‘abroad’. Little use was made of protective relationships (police and social workers) in both locations. The primary motivation for engaging in migrant sex work was to provide for their children at home.
This article focuses on sex work relations in the Mangue, one of Rio de Janeiro’s red light districts in the 1920s. It follows multiple simultaneous trajectories that converge in Rio’s changing urban landscape: League of Nation’s investigators (some of them undercover), local Brazilian authorities, particularly the police, and Fanny Galper, a former prostitute and madam. It argues that the spatial mobility of the persons involved in sex work is part of broader debates: On the one hand, these experiences of mobility are closely connected to the variegated attempts at surveillance of sex work that characterized Rio de Janeiro in the 1920s and the specific racialized organization of the women’s work as prostitutes. On the other hand, the actors analysed in this article also participated, in different ways, in the production of meanings in broader debates on the international circulation of policies intended to regulate and surveil prostitution. These encounters offer the opportunity to explore some of the intersections between this international circulation of policies, local social dynamics of European immigration, and the racialized history of labor relations in Brazil.
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