A Kiss for Gabriela now available to watch online!

We are very happy to share that A Kiss for Gabriela is now available to watch online! If you’d like a copy of the DVD with all of the extras (many also available on our YouTube channel), please just send us an email.

Enjoy the film! <3

This Tuesday! A Kiss for Gabriela at Purdue University with SWOP-Chicago!


Thank you from “Isabel” to those who supported IndieGoGo Campaign

I would like to thank all who have collaborated and supported my activism. Know that it is because of your help that I continue in the fight for sex worker rights. I am not going to give up. The help of each one of you made an enormous difference for me, as the Brazilian government doesn’t support my activism and doesn’t have any resources to work with prostitutes in situations of danger like the one I currently find myself in – a situation that the government itself put me in, through the police’s illegal action on May 23rd. It is through these difficulties and enormous barriers that I have found in this government that I am not going to give up! Prostitutes are also people and deserve respect and rights like any person. It is because of all of you that are helping me through various forms that I am not going to give up!

I confess that it is still very difficult for me, everything that I am going through, the innumerous difficulties that come out everyday, and many times I thought of giving up. However, when I see how various people throughout the world know about my story and support me as you have, then I stop, and think again: “I cannot give up, I have to show everyone that I am going to overcome this prejudice,” so I say once again, on my behalf and that of my colleagues in my profession and all of you who are supporting me that I am not going to give up!!

Thank you!!

Support Isabel: Sex worker activist from Niterói threatened after denouncing violence violence

isabel giving depoiamento

For the past three months, we’ve been accompanying the resistance and fight of sex workers in Niterói after the illegal police raids that started in March of this year. The most recent of which occurred when Isabel (not her real name), a sex worker rights activist with Davida had her life threatened after publically denouncing egregious sexual violence and human rights abuses against her and her colleagues during a completely illegal police raid on May 23rd of this year.

After denounding the violence in a public hearing, she was kidnapped, threatened, and shown photos of her son, being told that both she and her family would be killed if she continued denoucing the police violence to the media.  Journalist and researcher Julie Ruvolo covered Isabel’s experiences in hiding through her recent story in Vice News.

Despite this insidious violence and attempts at silencing her, she is continuing her fight, now bigger than ever as she has woven her way through completely inadquate government systems and programs that have NOTHING in place to support sex workers in her situation.

Here, at a time when hundreds of sex workers are advocating for their rights in Melbourne, and researchers are (finally) strongly endorsing decriminalization, we are sharing a campaign created in Indiegogo to provide emergency support to Isabel. Support goes to her protection, security, and costs of her and her family, and allow her to continue her fight and activism in Brazil – both for the creation of government policies and actions to support sex workers who denounce human rights violations, and for the completely decriminalization of prostitution in Brazil.

Davida, the Observatório da Prostituição, Jusitça Global, Anistia Internacional Brasil and Federal Deputy Jean Wyllys’s office are some of the groups that are mobilizing political support for Isabel’s cause and that of the nearly 400 other sex workers who lost their work and home environments during the police raids on the 23rd.

Please visit, share and donate to the campaign here

Donations go to Rattpallax, the organization that supports this documentary project, and are completely tax dedutable.


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PubIic Hearing on Niterói Case Confirms Illegal Actions and Egregious Police Abuses against Sex Workers

“Everything was wrong, we just want to work, nothing else”.

(Summary of blog post written in Portuguese by Soraya Simões and Laura Murray posted on June 6th).

Photo: Soraya Simões

Photo: Soraya Simões

On June 4th, sex workers from Niteroi participated in a public hearing at the Rio de Janeiro state legislature regarding the rights violations and abuses committed by the police during the illegal police raid on May 23rd. The public hearing was organized by the Human Rights Commission and the Commission for the Defense of Women’s Rights, and presided over by two state legislators, Marcelo Freixo from the Human Rights Commission and Inês Pandeló from the Women’s Commission. The audience at the hearing brought together sex workers, activists from Davida and the Prostitution Observatory, lawyers, attorneys, public defenders, and legislative assistants. The audience did not include the representatives from the civil police force, nor the precincts involved in the abuses – although they were invited to participate and explain their actions.

The first person to speak was Joyce, a sex worker who worked and lives in the building. She spoke of the illegal warrants that were passed out prior to the raid on the 23rd and all of the violence, robbery and sexual abuses suffered by sex workers on the day of the raid. As she said, “everything was wrong, we just want to work, nothing else”. Joyce also emphasized that the women’s police precinct in Niterói, DEAM, refused to register her complaint against the police officers’ behavior and abuses, “The precinct chief said that they couldn’t interfere in the operations of the 76 (police precinct). So none of the women were able to register their complaints in the DEAM, she (the officer responsible) refused to do it”.

Indianara Siqueira, a sex worker and congressional assistant of Federal Deputy Jean Wyllys who has accompanied the case from the very beginning also spoke of the long series of rights violations that have occurred in the building over the past months. She emphasized that the, “violations continue. Women are without a place to life, without a place to work and their children are depending on the help of others”. She proceeded to read a list of questions that Federal Deputy Jean Wyllys demands be responded to by the police.

The public defender who took on the case, Clara Prazeres Bragança from the Women’s Rights Defense Nucleus of the Public Defenders Office, spoke next, affirming, “It is not clear what led to the prison for questioning, and more, in conditions that were not the best…we keep asking if it is the State that has to protect, or the State that protects under and idea of ending that which bothers it. And who does it bother pale face?… There was no need to take these women to the police precinct, if there had been Representative Freixo, I wouldn’t be here.”

Ms. Prazeres had been to the 76th police precinct and talked with the police officers responsible for what happened. She confirmed that “there was no legal motive, but perhaps in their head there was a moral motive…[a justification] which I sincerely disapprove.”

The lawyer from the Human Rights Committee of the Brazilian Lawyer’s Association (OAB) Gustavo Proença, lamented the continuation of the practice of “prison for questioning” , which violates all of the citizen’s rights yet unfortunately have become common practice of the police. He also added that the night before a meeting with building residents was held at the police precinct, and created a humiliating and hostile environment for the sex workers who attended, until being thrown out, along with the lawyers from the OAB present.

Representative Freixo was the last to speak, and he publicly lamented the absence and silence of the Rio de Janeiro State Social Work and Human Rights Secretariat (SEASDH) and of the women’s police precinct (DEAM). He also affirmed that the short response of the 76th Precinct to the Human Rights Commission questions sent did not justify the police action and their treatment of sex workers as criminals, rather than victims of a crime (were the police to follow their logic of investigating exploitation). He was especially upset that DEAM nor responded to the Commission’s letter nor appeared at the hearing.

Furthermore, the Human Rights Commission also investigated and found out that the Civil Defense (Defesa Civil) had never visited the building, in which case the allegation that the building was unstable or a danger, and needing to be partially condemned is unfounded and unjustifiable. Representative Freixo concluded that, “it was an absolutely disastrous and illegal procedure that violated an enormous quantity of fundamental rights of the people affected”. He closed announcing that they will schedule another public hearing later this month in which the police forces will be required to attend and respond for their actions, in addition to the Civil Defense who will also be invited to explain their actions, or non-action, in the building.

The hearing was very important because it confirmed the illegality of the police actions, the unacceptable and deplorable attitude of the DEAM in refusing to register the women’s complaints, the lack of structural evidence to justify the condemning of the apartments where the women work, and moral, rather than legal, motives behind the State’s action.


In Protest of the Censorship of DASPU’s Facebook Page

daspu photos

Last week DASPU provoked a reaction from a Brazil’s increasingly conservative and reactionary society for affirming, yet once more, that bodies with and without clothing on the catwalk, in bed, on the street, at work, on stage –  wherever –  are political.

The official Facebook page of DASPU Real was taken offline after a photo from the fashion-show performance in which one of the models appeared naked with the sentence, “sex tourism is legal”, written on her body was denounced and judged by Facebook to violate the “standards of the Facebook community in terms of nudity”. It is notable that rather than taking down the photo that was denounced, which is the “normal” policy of the social network, the entire DASPU page was deactivated in an extreme gesture of censorship.

Per the story published yesterday in Beijo da Rua, the fashion show opened the exposition, “DASPU in Exhibition” and a two-day seminar organized by Davida with sex worker leaders from all over Brazil.  The exhibit, which includes over 25 original “wearable art” pieces made from past DASPU collections, is an artistic project realized in partnership between artist Paula Vila Nova that seeks to reaffirm the esthetic and political fight of Gabriela Leite.

In this blog, with Gabi present as always, no images will be censured, On the contrary, they will be commemorated and shared and we ask that you do the same with the photos and works of protests of the activists and artists involved in the project.

Statements of protest:

“All nudity will be censored, qualified, normatized, regulated and punished. The DASPU Real page was deactivated on Facebook for having images of the DASPU (clothing line created by Gabriela Leite) performace that was held in honor of Gabriela Leite. The politics of censorship is manifesting itself everywhere against the liberty and desire to think and live differently. With the advancement of censorship and other arbitrary forms of violence, a multitude of “invisible lives” is being produced, whose legal and political status finds itself suspended. This is how power interacts with whores, drug users, and protestors. The limits of what can appear, be said, or been shown in a performance of bodies in protest is rapidly denounced, removed, violated. What they seek is to exclude whatever possibility of citizenship, of practices of public occupation, or bodies that resist, desires that manifest themselves viscerally in defense of a legitimate space of protest and public debate, free from intimidation, aggression or whatever other form of violence present in our society today. DASPU is in and of itself a protest, resistance, political action. Denouncing us does not weaken us, on the contrary, we are even stronger to react. It was this way that we started 9 years ago, protesting against the reduction of legitimate spaces for our battles, vigilance and normatization of our bodies, and this is how we’ll continue. It is a job of resistance that uses the forces against us in our favor, and the catwalk as a battleground for the political rights of the prostitutes!” – Elaine Bortolanza, Dasputinha and Vice-President of Davida


“I just found out that the DASPU profile page was taken off the air due to the photos of the performace that happened during the fashion show in honor of Gabriela Leite. I feel disrespected, silenced, imprisioned….these are the “new times”? Times when an artist cannot express their art because it contains nudity? Since when is nudity pornography? Ahhhh, of course, because it isn’t carnaval, it isn’t BBB, it isn’t the soap opera at 8….it is ART! PQP IT IS ART! Shameless, people who are naked in favor of ART!


 And now I talk directly to the moralists, to whom they definitely felt affected by so much beauty, naturalness, love, attitude, and ART. On my behalf, I DON’T GIVE A SHIT ABOUT YOU, and it is not due to that that I am going to miss the chance to scream what I feel, what I believe and who I am. Kisses for you…, Paula Vill Nova, Multimedia artist and creator of the collection of Wearable Arte in honor of Gabriela Leite, and creator of the performance CENSORED by Facebook

 “We continue strong, we are who made history, that these that will passby, se continue with the whores, the liberty of express and of art, being naken, making love and sex, playing, making our presence with politics, eroticism, beauty and poetry, with our bodies overflowing with affect and orgasm, we will go wherever we want, and even here [on Facebook] we will continue to insist and disturb. Gabriela, present!” – Flavio Lenz, Journalist, Editor of Beijo da Rua, Co-founder of DASPU and Executive Secretary of Davida

“The first rehearsal for all of us is to “make a nude”. We are all makers of nudes, everyday, in all Carnavals, at home, at maternities, on the street, and churches. With varying urges and varying needs. Alone or accompanied.  Nudes, varios and distinct, nudes dressed and redressed by the eyes that look and look away. Seen by the eyes that see. Look at that. Look again. Envy? In the land of Facebook, who has eyes is…? There, an associated term, without a scale, nudity and pornography and investing in powers and anonymous voyeurs that clicks and denounces what they think is illegal, immoral or…caloric. In this case, the pleasure of others. The pleasure of being and making politics and parties with want, with desire, with courage without masks and viels, with faces towards the flashes (and there were a lot of them!) and other faces, other people, other smiles, many orgasms. In this episode of castration and censorship of the happiness of a Being that Can Be, cowardness – hypocrisy’s orgasm – was installed. This is the greatest obscenity”.  Soraya Simões, President of Davida, Coordinator of the Prostitution Observatory at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro

Confer and share the images photographer took of the fashion show Flavia Viana here:





A Tribute to Women Activists

As a tribute to women activists globally and their fights, we are sharing one more of the video extras from the documentary in which the woman who changed activism in Brazil  talks about what it means to be a prostitute activist and fight against the stigma that continues to exist even among activists.

[youtube XmRvy3LZYXk]

Long live Gabriela’s clarity, courage, intelligence, charisma, elegance and force!

DAVIDA’s response to President Dilma’s affirmation on Twitter that “Brazil is ready to combat sex tourism”

This week yet another example of the moral panic sweeping Brazilian politics emerged, sparked by two t-shirts released by ADIDAS for the World Cup that were understood be be offensive due to their sexual content.  Brazilian officials, including the President, made links between the t-shirts and sex tourism and sexual exploitation,  affirming that the t-shirts were promoting both. In the article in Brazilian press, the president of the Brazilian tourist board for example affirmed that, “..we don’t accept sex tourism. Of course people can have relationships during the World Cup, but we don’t want them to be commercialized”.

DAVIDA  responded by strongly defending the right of sex workers to work during the World Cup, and calling attention to the fact that sex tourism is not illegal, different from the sexual exploitation of children and adolescents.  Following is DAVIDA’s statement to Globo, Brazil’s largest media company and primary newspaper in Rio de Janeiro, part of which was published in the newspaper’s blog here:

“President Dilma Roussef reaffirmed in her Twitter the important determination of the Brazilian government to act in the “prevention of the sexual exploitation of children and adolescents in #Carnaval and #CopaDasCopas. Yet by writing that Brazil is “ready to combat sex tourism”, she contributes to a confusion, given that sexually exploiting children and adolescents is a crime, be it in Brazil or the exterior, whereas “sex tourism” does not even exist in the Brazilian legislation. Adult women and men that offer sexual services can attend to Brazilians or foreigners, without this constituting any type of crime, on either one’s part. In this context of megaevents in which a moral panic appears to be being disseminated, it is also important that the liberty and individual rights of all segments of the population be preserved, including adult sex workers.”

DAVIDA – Prostitution, Civil Rights, Health


T-shirt produced by Adidas.

T-shirt produced by Adidas that offended Brazilian government.

Adidas t shirt 2

Second t-shirt produced by Adidas that provoked controversy in Brazil.

Dossier Gabriela Leite


[Reposting this fantastic dossier with all that was published about Gabriela put together by Sexuality Policy Watch: http://www.sxpolitics.org/?p=8682.  Image above from ABIA.]

Dossier Gabriela Leite

The death of Gabriela Leite, on October 10, meant a great loss for the struggle for the rights of prostitutes, and sexual rights brodaly speaking, in Brazil. Throughout her life Gabriela embodied the struggle for freedom, non discrimination  and the right to pleasure and happinness.

As a tribute to Gabriela, SPW gathered articles and notes that have been issued by civil society organizations, social movements, government institutions as well as press articles after her death. We clustered this material in three categories: articles and the analytical notes that devote attention to the role of Gabriela on the political scene; notes of sorrow and sympathy issued in Brazil and worldwide; and, finally, press repercussion.

Articles and analytical notes

“Antes sem-vergonha do que vítima” – CLAM/IMS/UERJ

Mundo ficou mais careta sem Gabriela, uma senhora puta – Estado de São Paulo

Gabriela Leite: contra preconceitos, a força da ironia – Outras palavras

Os legados de Norma Benguell e Gabriela Leite – Viomundo.com.br

Sobre putas e palavras mágicas – Blogueiras feministas

Gabriela Leite e a “liberdade de pensar e se comportar diferente” – Rede Brasil Atual

Se fue uma hija, madre, abuela y puta – Correspondesalesclave

30 ANOS DO PROGRAMA DE DST/AIDS DE SP: Gabriela Leite é homenageada na mesa que revelou dados de pesquisas sobre HIV em gays e presidiárias – Agência de Notícias da Aids

Inspirational brazilian activist Gabriela Leite dies – NWSP

Condolence notes

Breve adeus a Gabriela Leite – ABIA

Cebes presta últimas homenagens à líder feminista Gabriela Silva Leite – CEBES

Farewell to Gabriela Leite – A kiss for Gabriela

O que é liberdade para Gabriela Leite – Rede Democrática

STRASS – Syndicat du Travail Sexuel

O adeus a Gabriela Leite, a mulher que trouxe cidadania e respeito às prostitutas do Brasil – Rede VIH

É ilegal ser normal – Antra

Brazil’s #1 Puta – Museum of sex

Morre uma das grandes lideranças na luta contra a Aids – Depto DST

Adeus, Gabriela Leite – Brasil em pauta

Press News

Morre Gabriela Leite, fundadora da Daspu e defensora das prostitutas – Revista Fórum

Morre Gabriela Leite, a criadora da Daspu – O Globo

Morre Gabriela Leite, fundadora da Daspu – Último Segundo

– See more at: http://www.sxpolitics.org/?p=8682#sthash.AtGvHhPu.dpuf

Statement from the Brazilian Network of Prostitutes about censorship and the federal government’s intervention and alteration of the AIDS prevention campaign

[This statement from The Brazilian Network of Prostitutes is translated from the original Portuguese and a response to yesterday’s re-release of a drastically altered STI and HIV prevention campaign by the Ministry of Health. This is the most recent in a series of events of censorship of materials produced for and by prostitutes in Brazil. Please see our earlier blog post for more background and the original materials produced and responses from specific sex worker NGOs. Click on the language to download PDF versions in English,Portuguese and Espanhol.]

Against the common good and the general happiness of the nation, the government violates the principles of the Constitution and the Unified Health System

June 7, 2013

The prostitute and sanitary reform movements, which brought about the construction of the Unified Health System (SUS – acronym in Portuguese), have common points in their trajectories: processes of dialogue, creation, and action. As health was transformed into an obligation of the state and right for all – orientated by the principles of universality, equality (without prejudice or privileges of any kind), integrality, decentralization and community participation – the prostitute movement is rooted in denouncing inequality, prejudice, discrimination, and affirming the right to work with dignity, respect and citizenship.

With the government’s decision to first veto and then drastically alter the AIDS campaign supposedly constructed in partnership with prostitutes, we see that 30 years later they are using this social group to affirm what they desire, thereby ignoring the achievements of the social movement and violating diverse democratic principles of the SUS.

First, it violates the principle of community participation. The workshop destined to create the campaign, promoted in March by the STD, AIDS and Viral Hepatitis Department, resulted in materials that highlighted happiness (“I’m happy being a prostitute”), citizenship (“Our biggest dream is that society sees us as citizens”), the fight against violence (“Not accepting people as they are is a form of violence”) and condoms. What did the government do? It ignored all of these elements that have been proven to contribute to prevention and limited itself to incentivizing condom use, as if it was a gesture that is purely objective and mechanic, disassociated from subjectivities, rights and vulnerabilities. It is the “hygienization” of life.

Second, by selecting only a determinate message from among those constructed in the workshop, it rejects the principle of equality by denying prostitutes the right to express their dreams, ideas of citizenship and affirm their identity and social visibility. In this sense, they are no longer recognized as citizens and users of the SUS.

Prevention and health promotion actions based on citizenship frameworks should highlight, and also be part of, another principle of Health which was violated –  integrality.

Moreover, the government’s actions place them in an arrogant position by only permitting prostitutes to appear as victims or vectors, and as such, subjects without a voice. They only have the right to be saved by the State, which is the provider of the only element (“get your condom at the health center”) that will save them from Aids.

The government’s attitude also reveals an attempt to nurture a moral structure of the family at any cost through their cowardly complicity with a discourse that relegates prostitutes and other “inconvenient” segments to the margins of a certain model of society.

By pronouncing themselves against the text, “I’m happy being a prostitute”, in the beginning, the government also demonstrates arrogance by not believing that a prostitute can be happy and fear that we express desires of happiness that go against this model of society.

And the politicians’ desires? What arrangements are behind these movements? Is there a project for happiness? Why can only they be happy? What is the price to be paid by prostitutes? Our bodies, desires and lives are what are paying the prices of political agreements and party negotiations. This is the cost of the censorship and cutting off dialogue.

Here, we’ll stay, happy with our profession and believing that we shouldn’t live with violence and discrimination, and need to be respected for our choices as citizens. We insist that the government assume, with courage, the construction of policies based on constitutional principles for the entire population, independent of sexual orientation, gender identity or profession.

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