Jo Griffin
The Observer
February 9, 2014

[…] As Brazil prepares to host the World Cup this summer, Fortaleza is under the spotlight for its reputation as the country’s capital of sex tourism and the sexual exploitation of children. With around 6,000 foreign fans expected to arrive, and Brazilians travelling to matches nationwide, Rodriguez and her colleagues fear a huge surge in the sex trafficking of minors.

Sexual violence is the second most reported crime against children in Brazil, with most victims aged between 10 and 14. Fortaleza has received more complaints, or denuncias, to a special toll-free telephone line than any other city.

Last Tuesday in London, the charity Happy Child, which works mainly in Brazil, launched a campaign called It’s A Penalty, backed by the UK’s National Crime Agency and footballers including Frank Lampard and Brazil’s David Luiz. Its aim is to raise awareness of child sexual exploitation and warn fans that paying for sex with anyone under 18 is a crime for which they will face prosecution in the UK or Brazil.

Happy Child’s chief executive, Sarah de Carvalho, said: “Children as young as 11 or 12 are already being trafficked in preparation for the World Cup.”

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