Victim management and the politics of protection: Between “fazer direito” and “direitinho”

Laura Murray


In this article, I argue that in the context of institutional violence against sex workers in Brazil, the state does not do what it should; it
goes out of its way to do what it shouldn’t. I refer to this way of acting as fazer direitinho, or the state’s use of bureaucratic processes
and loopholes to promote its own interests by silencing victims of its violence. I contrast this with sex worker activists’ efforts to
fazer direito, uncovering what happens when “victims” resist, and advocate for the state to act in the name of justice, rather than
its own interest. Drawing on extensive ethnographic research and recent theoretical work on penal state policies and victimhood, I
propose the term victim management as one that encapsulates processes and mechanisms through which the state creates victims
that it is willing to protect.


Prostitution; Sex Work; Institutional Violence; Policing; Victimization; Activism; Anthropology of the state

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