With Brazil leading Latin America in the highest rate of child prostitution and sex tourism, big events such as Carnival and other festivities draw in tourists from all over the world creating to a large demand for sex workers. When there is a high demand there must be an ample supply and with the predicted 600,000 foreigners flocking into Brazil for World Cup event being held this June, many are concerned with Brazil’s race to meet the demand.
In Brazil, young girls in poverty ridden cities have no choice but to engage in this unforgiving and dangerous exchange. Prostitution is a source of income and a necessary act of survival in a place with minimal opportunities. Many are recruited from extremely impoverished towns outside the major cities such as Sao Paulo and Fortaleza. Due to unfortunate circumstances of many families, parents are easily persuaded by pimps and brothel owners into selling their young daughters between 5,000 and 10,000 dollars.
Not only is prostitution legal in Brazil, the country’s legal age of consent for sexual activity is age 14. This law has made it much easier for children as young as eight to join in the trade. Just last year a court decided to dismiss a case of statutory rape involving a 12 year old girl due to the suspicions of her working as a prostitute. With these disturbing laws and reactions from Brazil’s legal system, attention is captured by non-governmental organizations and human rights organizations that believe the Brazilian government is not doing nearly enough to address the problem of child prostitution.
The Brazilian government has spent 33 billion reals on stadiums, transport and other infrastructure as well as six million on advertisements to accommodate and promote the tournament. With the World Cup as their top priority it is no surprise they have invested very little in fighting the sexual exploitation of minors. Non-governmental organizations within Brazil have gathered funds to fight child prostitution, however, few cities have the correct programs to sufficiently use those funds.
Frustrated with the lack of support from the Brazilian government, Denise Cesario, an executive manager of Save the Children International states: “This subject is not really part of the government’s agenda and we do not see a willingness to combine efforts or increase resources to address sexual exploitation of children.”
Despite the government’s insufficient action, local organizations are working hard to impede the growth of the child prostitution industry, beginning with the 2014 World Cup.