World Cup Brazil: Ready to combat sexual tourism
As night falls, Adriana de Morais patrols the clubs and bars of Natal, one of Brazil's World Cup host cities, looking for underage prostitutes and trying to get them off the streets.
As night falls, Adriana de Morais patrols the clubs and bars of Natal, one of Brazil’s World Cup host cities, looking for underage prostitutes and trying to get them off the streets.
As she and her team weave between revelers in this tropical city known for its nightlife, their black polo shirts, emblazoned with the emblem of the local child protection unit, stand out amid the tight mini-skirts and colorful clothing of the crowds.
An estimated 600 000 foreigners are about to descend on Brazil for the World Cup, which opens on June 12, and the authorities worry the influx will bring an increase in sex tourism and child prostitution.
“It’s a singular event that brings many people from outside, and we really worry about sexual tourism,” Morais told AFP.
No official statistics on underage prostitutes exist in Brazil. The only figure available comes from the government’s anonymous child-abuse hotline, which received 124 000 calls in 2013 – 26 percent of them for sexual violence against children.
Most of the calls came from the north-east, a poor region where turquoise waters and idyllic beaches are a major tourist draw.
A year ago, Taina was one of the girls walking the street here. Her story echoes that of thousands of Brazilian children.
Abused at home, she ran away at the age of 10. To survive, she sold sex in exchange for meals or money.
“We would go to Ponta Negra (a tourist neighborhood in Natal). My friends and I, we’d wait for cars to stop and call us and we’d go with them. A lot of times it was foreigners. There weren’t many Brazilians,” she says.