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Part II discusses the fuzzy legality of prostitution in Rio. This section looks prostitution today in Rio, and presents eviction maps of sex venues in Copacabana Beach and downtown Rio. By the late s, however, the port was beginning to decay and street prostitution became much more common in the neighborhood, as the Mangue began to be demolished.
People could thus walk the streets without being importuned by the whores…. This brief story highlights several persistent themes in the extra official regulation of prostitution by the police in Rio de Janeiro from World War II on to the end of the military dictatorship in In the first place, throughout the 20th century, the sale of sex was largely understood by the police and the judiciary as a professional if immoral and degraded activity and not a crime.
Nevertheless, it was seen as an activity that must be tightly disciplined and kept within bounds. In the case of the Mangue in , the prostitutes themselves were organized to administer the houses and provide order, under police oversight. Until very recently , the port zone still contained many of the clubs and cabarets first established there in the s or their direct descendants , and the region was still catering to foreigners: itinerant seamen, mostly Filipinos, Indians and Chinese.
According to Inspector Armando Pereira, the number of hotels used specifically for commercial sexual encounters tripled in the city during the s. This modification in sex work practices was greatly facilitated by the liberalization in bourgeois sexual mores, which led to supreme court decisions in the s stipulating that hotel owners were not responsible for verifying the marital status of their mixed-sex guest couples. In spite of a concerted police effort to close down sex hotels in which, according to Pereira, brought prostitution almost to a halt everywhere in Rio outside of the Mangue , they continued to proliferate and, by , there were over of them in the city.
With the further liberalization in mores and increased female mobility brought about by the Sexual Revolution of the s, sex hotels began to service ever greater numbers of non-commercial couples.