BRAZILIAN kids as young as 10 are being forced to sell themselves for sex on the streets to cash in on the hundreds of thousands of soccer fans heading to the World Cup, a shocking investigation has revealed.
As soccer fans descend on Brazil for the tournament this week, evil pimps are exploiting young children who are hopelessly addicted to crack cocaine and living on the streets, a report by British tabloid the Sunday People has revealed.
Young girls and boys high after sniffing glue openly sell themselves for sex on street corners in the city of Recife — which will host five matches — for as little as $4, the investigative report claims.
The problem is not just confined to Recife — child prostitution is endemic across the entire country.
To the north of Recife lies the beach resort city of Fortaleza, host to six World Cup matches and widely considered to a hotspot for child sex tourism
One factor that has allowed child prostitution to flourish in Brazil under the noses of police officers is that the country’s age of consent is 14.
Also, in 2012 a Brazilian court ruled that sex with a 12-year-old did not necessarily constitute statutory rape — a decision that Amnesty International blasted as “a green light for rapists.”
With 600,000 foreign soccer fans preparing to descend on the World Cup host nation this week, and 3 million Brazilian fans travelling around the country, there are grave fears the children’s plight will only get worse.
One child told the Sunday People how she regularly gets approached by dozens of men looking for sex — locals, tourists and taxi drivers.
Lorrisa, 13, said she sniffed strong industrial glue, which the locals kids call “cola”, to stave off hunger pangs.
“Sniffing the glue makes me feel dizzy and numb and it stops me feeling hungry so I don’t need to eat,” Lorrisa said.
“It helps me cope with the violence and danger on the streets.”
An older woman who has lived on the streets since the age of seven said the children of Recife are at risk from local men and tourists.
She pointed out one boy aged 10 who had been forced into prostitution.
She said: “The children go with the men because they are high on drugs or need more money to buy drugs.
“They use drugs to numb the pain of the sexual abuse, become addicted then need to sell themselves over and over again to raise the money.”
Critics of Brazil’s Goverment say officials have pushed the child sex trade out of sight, but haven’t done enough to eradicate its root causes. They warn underage prostitution could explode during the World Cup.
“These girls come from extreme poverty, a culture of social exclusion and a tradition of profound disrespect for women,” Antonia Lima Sousa, a state prosecutor, told CNN.
The scourge of child prostitution “involves a whole tourism network, from agencies to hotels to taxis,” she says. “With these mega events, sexual exploitation is also going to be organised much more via the internet.”
Despite promises to eradicate child prostitution, the number of estimated child sex workers in Brazil stands at about half a million, according to the non-profit National Forum for the Prevention of Child Labour.
Last month, a global network of religious orders against human trafficking launched a campaign against child prostitution during the World Cup.
“In Brazil, our greatest concern is linked to the increase in the exploitation of child prostitution,” said Sister Gabriella Bottani, an Italian nun who is an organiser of the coalition involving 240 religious congregations from 79 countries.
She said international sporting events attract human traffickers, who trick jobseekers into slave labour and also kidnap children for illegal adoptions or forced begging.
Footballers have also taken a stand against child exploitation in the It’s a Penalty campaign, which features Brazil’s David Luiz and was launched by former England captain Gary Lineker.
Sadly, it’s a long way from the streets where life is cheap and children can be sold for next to nothing.
And it’s a world away from the street corners where 14-year-old Calliem has been selling her body from sex since the age of 11.
“I have sex so many times with men and they only pay me five Brazilian real,” she told the Sunday People.
The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.