While doing research for our documentary "City of Hope: A Children's Story" I came across many articles about Brazil's epidemic with prostitution. According to one Brazilian Congressional report, Brazil has the highest rate of child prostitution in Latin America and the second highest rate in the world. The Brazilian Centre for Children and Adolescents has estimated there are 500,000 Brazilian children involved in prostitution.
REAL LIFE CASE STUDIES
1. In Foz de Iguacu, in the south of Brazil, a council investigation reported that children as young as eight are involved in prostitution, coming to the town from all over the country. Their photos and prices are presented in menu form for potential clients. Arriving in the city, sometimes fooled by the promise of a legitimate job, the young girls are enslaved, unable to leave the premises, made to prostitute themselves, their hair is painted, their documents falsified and their names changed. The report stated that the town judge and children's council were negligent, as they were reluctant to act against those using the children, many of whom were powerful and well-known public figures.
2. In the North eastern outback, the poorest region of Brazil, children are often forced to sell their bodies by their own parents, to the long-distance lorry drivers that travel the main motorways. In the poor interior town of Araripina, for example, children as young as eight prostitute themselves for as little as 1 real, or 30 pence. The highest price that a child can manage is 5 reais, about £1.50.
3. In the coastal North-Eastern cities of Brazil, such as Fortaleza, Recife and Salvador, children are also forced into prostitution by poverty. These are favourite resorts for foreign sex tourists, who arrive in the cities for the sole purpose of procuring sex with children.
4. In Belem, on the mouth of the Amazon, foreigners reportedly control the prostitution of children. According to the Prosecution Service, of the 114 prostitution houses in the city, 77 offer children from 11 to 17-years-old. Five of them are exclusively dedicated to the sexual exploitation of children, all five of which are owned by foreigners. A Kenyan mariner told a reporter from the Brazilian newspaper O Globo that Belem is the world's sexual paradise and that you can get a girl of whatever age you want whenever you want.
One experienced worker with Brazilian street children and child prostitutes has complained that the frequent demeaning sexual portrayal of young women and children in the Brazilian media helps create a mindset and culture where the sexual exploitation of such people becomes more acceptable.
In various State Parliamentary Commissions of Enquiry people in high positions including some politicians and judges have been discovered to have been involved in the sexual exploitation of children.