The Gabriela Leite Act: Creating Policies to Protect the Health of Sex Workers in Brazil

Simone Akgulian

Abstract


In Brazil, prostitution and sex work have been decriminalized since 1830, but current laws, along with Brazil’s Penal Code, restrict sex work in ways that often harm sex workers. Gabriela Leite, a university student turned sex worker, spent the last twenty years of her life advocating for change and better conditions for sex workers in Brazil. Leite ignited a movement, which sought to reform legislation surrounding sex work in Brazil. Together with Jean Wyllys, a Brazilian federal deputy representing Rio de Janeiro, the movement’s work culminated in the Gabriela Leite Act. The bill aimed to make changes to the Brazilian Penal Code that would clearly differentiate between sex work and sexual exploitation and allow for the subsequent regulation of sex work. This case examines whether the proposed changes would actually improve the lives and health of sex workers and whether or not the sex worker movement should actually support the bill.

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