World Cup warning over child prostitution with girls as young as 11 forced to walk the streets of Brazil targeting foreign tourists for sex
By Hugo Gye
Brazil faces a new epidemic of child prostitution and sex tourism in the run-up to this summer's World Cup, politicians and activists have warned.
Traffickers are reportedly recruiting young girls to work as prostitutes in the areas around the football stadiums in anticipation of a booming trade over the next few months.
Up to half a million children as young as 11 are abused with the consent of their families, and pimped out to tourists or lorry drivers.
The country's government has launched a new drive to remind visitors that child prostitution is illegal - but tourists are in fact rarely prosecuting for having sex with minors.
|Fears: The World Cup is set to bring an epidemic of child prostitution to the streets of Brazil (file photo)|
One 13-year-old girl told the inquiry that she had been abused by a construction worker at the stadium who impregnated her, according to The Times.
'After a while he said he would take me,' she said. 'My father did not care much. It seems that for him it was good, because it was one less mouth to feed.'
Other young girls sell their bodies along one of Brazil's main highways, the BR-116, where truckers stop for sex while transporting goods on journeys which can last days.
|Industry: The government is trying to crack down on prostitution but with mixed success (file photo)|
'Mothers or family members have no problem taking their daughters to a roadside brothel,' he told The Times. 'It's just seen as completely normal.'
The government is attempting to crack down on the practice, with child prostitution even featuring as a major storyline in a popular soap opera.
'Every tourist who arrives in Brazil will know that the exploitation of children and juveniles is a crime,' a spokesman said earlier this month. 'He'll see it in airplanes, airports, bus and train stations and hotels.'
|Threat: A report this week revealed that child prostitutes were common in the area around the Corinthians stadium in Sao Paulo, pictured|
'While the World Cup is a joyful time, it also exposes vulnerable young children and adolescents to violence and sexual exploitation,' said Anette Trompeter of Plan International.
'Unfortunately tourism is often linked with the sexual exploitation of children, due to an increasingly permissive atmosphere and the use of hotels at this time.'
Adriana de Morais, an activist who patrols the bars of Natal - a north-eastern city which will host four World Cup games - trying to help child prostitutes is also concerned about the effect the competition will have.
'It's a singular event that brings many people from outside, and we really worry about sexual tourism,' she told AFP.
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