Operation Princess in Rio de Janeiro: Policing ‘Sex Trafficking’, Strengthening Worker Citizenship, and the Urban Geopolitics of Security in Brazil


Amar, Paul. 2009. “Operation Princess in Rio de Janeiro: Policing ‘Sex Trafficking’, Strengthening Worker Citizenship, and the Urban Geopolitics of Security in Brazil.” Security Dialogue 40 (4-5): 513-41.

Author: Paul Amar


This article develops new insights into the gendered insecurities of the neoliberal state in Latin America by exploring the militarization of public security in Rio de Janeiro during 2003-08 around campaigns to stop the 'trafficking' of sex workers. Findings illuminate the intersection of three neoliberal governance logics: (1) a moralistic humanitarian-rescue agenda promoted by evangelical populists and police groups; (2) a juridical 'law and rights' logic promoted by justice-sector actors and human-rights NGOS; (3) a worker-empowerment logic articulated by the governing Workers' Party (PT) in alliance with social-justice movements, police reformers, and prostitutes' rights groups. Gender and race analyses map the antagonisms between these three logics of neoliberal governance, and how their incommensurabilities generate crisis in the arena of security policy. By exploring Brazil's fraught efforts to attain the status of 'human security superpower' through these interventions, the article challenges the view that the reordering of security politics in the global south is inevitably linked to desecularization, disempowerment, and militarization.

Keywords: security, gender, human trafficking, race, Brazil

Topics: Gender, Women, Governance, Livelihoods, Sexual Livelihoods, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Militarization, Race, Security, Human Security, Trafficking, Sex Trafficking Regions: Americas, South America Countries: Brazil

Year: 2009

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