SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Prostitutes in the Brazilian city of Belo Horizonte are signing up in droves for free language classes in order to be ready for a barrage of foreign visitors to the tropical country during the 2014 soccer World Cup.
The women join many others in Brazilian society, from politicians to construction workers, who are racing the clock to prepare 12 host cities throughout the nation for the international soccer championship.
"When all this chatter about being ready for the World Cup started last year, we decided the women needed to be prepared for it too," Cida Vieira, president of the Minas Gerais state Association of Prostitutes, told Reuters on Tuesday.
The group has solicited volunteers to teach English, Spanish and even Portuguese, she said, explaining that some of the city's sex workers are immigrants who needed to learn Brazil's primary language.
Vieira said demand for the classes could surpass the 300 women who originally expressed interest, with calls coming in from as far away as Sao Paulo, about 509 km (316 miles) from Belo Horizonte.
"This is important for the dignity of the work, the women need to be able to negotiate a fair price and defend themselves," she said.
(Reporting Caroline Stauffer; Editing Paul Simao)