(São Paulo) - THOUSANDS of children are subjected to sexual exploitation in Brazil every year – with fears more could be vulnerable as the 2014 FIFA World Cup approaches.
With a month to go until the event starts, children’s charity Plan International is continuing to warn of the risks through its campaign which is raising awareness about the issue.
Now the European Economic and Social Committee’s human rights committee has called on the EU to take action to tackle the abuse of children by travelling sex offenders.
“While the World Cup is a joyful time, it also exposes vulnerable young children and adolescents to violence and sexual exploitation,” says Anette Trompeter, Plan’s National Director in Brazil.
“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.
“Plan’s goal is to prevent this exploitation by raising awareness about the issue and opening doors to vulnerable children to help develop their potential,” she adds.
Many children in Brazil are trafficked into the sex trade in large cities and often girls are made to look older than they really are.
In 2011 alone more than 10,000 children and adolescents were reported as being victims of sexual abuse, some as young as 11.
Sexual violence is the second most reported crime against children in Brazil, with most victims aged between 10 and 14.
Plan’s Because I am a Girl campaign has found that when children, girls in particular, are at risk of violence, poverty and exploitation, it can have a major impact on their education, with many of them forced to drop out of school.
Through its Tourism & Child Protection project, Plan has been raising awareness amongst the community in some of the most affected areas, including Recife and coastal areas near Natal, both host cities.
Plan also works with vulnerable adolescent girls through its football project, which helps to build up life skills and self-esteem.
Another Plan project has helped 150 youths aged 18 to 22, gain steward jobs in host city Natal during the World Cup.
Around 60% of participants are young women, some of whom might otherwise be forced into prostitution to survive.
When the tournament is over, Plan hopes to use the empty Arena das Dunas stadium in Natal as a vocational training centre.