Buenos Aires is known more for its tango than for its prostitutes. But the oldest profession in the world is almost as legal here as the seductive dance. And now it’s not just milongas and tango theaters that have their own maps. Thanks to Google Maps, whorehouses do too.
A brief look at this map here indicates that brothels are more common in Buenos Aires than are Burger Kings, movie theaters or shopping malls.
Though largely out of sight, and therefore out of mind, the city’s streets, especially those in the downtown “micocentro” area, are literally lined with houses of ill repute.
Of course, in some sense there’s nothing novel about this. The world’s cities have been home to underground pleasure palaces for millennia. What’s novel is the way BA’s sex industry has utilized the Internet and new technologies such as Google Maps to promote itself.
Online sites such as this one (WARNING: XXX material) provide prospective Johns with an www.amazon.com-like browsing experience, complete with photos, customer reviews, and contact information for call-girls and “massage therapists” throughout the city.
“The use of technologies like this isn’t something that we’re involved in as a union,” Eva Amorín, a spokeswoman for AMMAR, the Argentine prostitutes union, told The Argentine Post. “The girls typically promote themselves on their own.”
AMMAR isn’t your typical union. It doesn’t enforce the collection of membership dues or provide health benefits. It spends most of its time “fighting to change the laws and protect women.”
“On the national level, Argentina is an evolved country regarding prostitution,” said Amorín. “Its legal code doesn’t castigate or persecute prostitutes. But at the municipal level, there are “common living” codes in almost all provinces that allow for prostitutes to be fined and castigated. This leads to bribery, and persecution and police corruption.”
Amorín said prostitution isn’t the profession that some Johns think it is, and it’s especially not as simple or straightforward as some online sites make it appear.
“Around 90% of the sexual workers are poor and they have an average of six children each,” she said.
*If you’re wondering if all this is really legal, the answer is – sort of. For more on that, check out this post I did in 2007 on the legality of prostitution in Buenos Aires.