July 22, 2013 -- A group of Brazilian women will wear suggestive nun outfits and other erotic attire when they march in Rio this week during Pope Francis' first visit to Brazil. The protest -- called "SlutWalk" -- is part of an international rally that began in Toronto in 2011 against sexual profiling and sexual abuse.
"We've decided to organize SlutWalk during the Pope's visit to establish a political counterpoint," Rogeria Peixinho, an activist from the Association of Brazilian Women, told EFE. "We want to show that there's another youth and another way of thinking that is against oppression and the control of female sexuality."
The pope is set to land in Brazil today to celebrate World Youth Day, a five-day gathering between the pope and Catholic youth from all around the globe that takes place every two or three years.
Like the Confederations Cup, the event is putting the spotlight on Brazil. Thousands of Catholics from all across South America are travelling to Rio to see the Pope, and groups of protesters and activists are taking advantage of the occasion to garner attention for different social issues.
Apart from SlutWalk, which will take place on the beach of Copacabana on July 27, the group "Anonymous Rio" has called for a demonstration in front of the government building where Francis is supposed to meet Brazilian President Dilma Roussef. Anonymous Rio is part of the so-called Brazilian Spring, and it argues for the ousting of Rio de Janeiro Governor Sergio Cabral, as well as for an end to corruption. Other activists are planning to protest police brutality and favela and indigenous group evictions, according to the Rio Times.
In the past few days, the Vatican has distanced itself from the protests, and issued few comments about the subject. "We know that they are not against the Pope or the Church in any specific way," Federico Lombardi, the Vatican's spokesman, said referring to the demonstrations. (Back in June, according to El País, the Pope had said that they were "just and in accordance with the Gospel.")
The Brazilian government is heightening security in advance of the protests by increasing the number of men on the ground, and by including plainclothes policemen among the crowds.
The event's organizers have tried to counter any possible complaints regarding related costs by highlighting the possible benefits – $220 million in revenue and 20,000 jobs – that the gathering could bring to the Brazilian economy.
Rio, meanwhile, is preparing for an influx of nearly 1.5 million Catholics. As part of the reception, sand sculptors and other artists have covered up the traditional nude breasts that decorate the beaches of Copacabana and replaced them with effigies of the pontiff and other religious motifs.