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Brazil Fights the Sexual Exploitation of Children in Tourism

How Sustainable Tourism and Travelers' Involvement Can Help Brazilian Children

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The fight against the sexual exploitation of children in tourism in Brazil is high on the Ministry of Tourism's agenda. One of the programs is TSI (Sustainable Tourism and Childhood), which aims to provide families with income alternatives which make them less likely to rely on child sex tourism as a means of survival.

The logistics of a sexual offender's trip to Brazil have involved travel agencies dealing in this crime as well as local accomplices, such as hotel staff or taxi drivers who bring children to clients. Poverty and parents who offer their children up as prostitutes to foreign travelers have been key factors in this criminal activity.

The Ministry, local governments and nongovernmental organizations have engaged in year-round prevention and awareness campaigns.

Brazil is struggling to show child predators that there is a difference between the excesses of consenting adults during Carnival and the sexual abuse of minors. Special police actions at Carnival target neighborhoods and situations which have been identified as potentially dangerous to children.

Cities Take Action

Cities formerly known for their lax control of child sex tourism are struggling to change their situation - and their image. Revenue is openly mentioned as one of the motivations, since studies show that child predators spend less money on their trips than healthy-minded tourists.

Investing in programs which prepare young people for work in the travel tourism is one of the ways cities are fighting abusive activities.

In 2000, Brazil defined May 18 as the National Day for the Fight Against Child Exploitation and Abuse. Every year on this date, events are held all over Brazil to debate solutions for problems afflicting Brazilian children, including child sex tourism.

The date honors Araceli Cabrera Sanches, an eight-year old girl who was abducted, raped and murdered on May 18, 1973. Because her killers were released, the date has also become a symbol of the fight against impunity in Brazil.

Some of the latest initiatives on the federal level have been "Proteja - não desvie o olhar" ("Protect - Don't Look Away"), a campaign encouraging people to report the sexual exploitation of minors by calling 100 and boosted in time for Carnival 2013; the October 2013 launching of a multiplier's manual for the prevention of the problem.

The Ministry of Tourism also supports ESCI, the Tri-Border Area (TBA) campaign against the sexual exploitation of children and teenagers launched on Nov.22, 2013. Led by Itaipu, the campaign involves NGOS for human rights in Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay, and targets TBA cities with high tourism activity in the three countries, respectively Foz do Iguaçu (Brazil), Puerto Iguazú (Argentina) and Ciudad del Este (Paraguay).

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