Brazil's child sex trade thrives as World Cup looms

Tue Dec 3, 2013 1:25am EST
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By Adriana Brasileiro

FORTALEZA, Brazil (Reuters) - With Brazil hosting the World Cup next year, officials fear an explosion in child prostitution as sex workers migrate to big cities and pimps recruit more underage prostitutes to meet the demand from local and foreign soccer fans.

"We're worried sexual exploitation will increase in the host cities and around them," said Joseleno Vieira dos Santos, who coordinates a national program to fight the sexual exploitation of children at Brazil's Human Rights Secretariat.

"We're trying to coordinate efforts as much as we can with state and city governments to understand the scope of the problem."

Child prostitution is driven mostly by local demand in Brazil, with more than 75 percent of clients coming from the same or nearby states as their victims, according to estimates from the secretariat. Sex tourism targeting children is active in larger cities along the coast and increases at times of big events such as Carnival or New Year's Eve festivities.

It won't be different with the World Cup, and authorities face a big challenge as sex workers of all ages, and the people who control them, look to cash in.

The Minas Gerais State Association of Prostitutes, an organization that represents sex workers in one of Brazil's largest states, is even offering free English lessons to prostitutes in Belo Horizonte, another World Cup host city.

"There'll be a lot more people circulating in this area during the games for sure and the city will be full of tourists," said Giovana, a 19-year-old transvestite working a corner near Fortaleza's Castelão stadium.

"I know there'll be more work for everybody - women, girls, everybody."   Continued...

Vanessa, 13, who was picked up by the police on the streets, poses with a DVD cover at a shelter for girls who have faced sexual violence or sexual commercial exploitation, where she was sheltered after undergoing treatment for crack cocaine abuse, in Fortaleza November 1, 2013. REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes