Travel

I Spent Seven Months Inside Brazil's Most Notorious Red Light District

Walking around Rio's Vila Mimosa you are confronted with a never-ending parade of vermin, bums, drugs, thongs, bugs, breasts, dogs, women, men, and babies running around in diapers.

by Fábio Teixeira, Words by Débora Lopes
Sep 30 2016, 2:05pm

WARNING: THIS POST CONTAINS GRAPHIC IMAGES

This article originally appeared on VICE Brazil

Vila Mimosa is one of the most notorious areas of prostitution in Brazil. While sex tourists visit Copacabana en masse, Vila Mimosa attracts a more local clientele. A few thousand women work in this neighborhood in the north of Rio de Janeiro—estimations of the number of women varies between 2,000 and 3,500—while the area claims to receive 4,000 visitors daily.

The neighborhood is a network of dilapidated buildings, pool halls, shops, and brothels posing as bars—prostitution isn't illegal in Brazil, but owning and running a brothel is. Behind the storefronts, you'll find thousands of tiny, dark, almost suffocating rooms, where the prostitutes take their clients. But the area is also home to dozens of families. Walking around, you are constantly confronted by a parade of vermin, bums, drugs, thongs, bugs, breasts, dogs, women, men, and babies running around in diapers. Trans people, however, are strictly forbidden from entering the neighborhood.

Photographer Fábio Teixeira spent seven months in and around Vila Mimosa, trying to capture the neighborhood's spirit for VICE Brazil. "I witnessed Vila Mimosa's world firsthand. It's a place of contrasts and extremes," he says.