Rose was just 11 years old when her mother sent her to the streets of Recife, a city in northeast Brazil, to beg for money. On the streets Rose, like other street children, was vulnerable to trafficking and soon became a victim of the child sex trade. She was forced to sell herself for sex late at night outside a motel with a group of other very young girls dressed up to look older.
By the age of 16, Rose had already given birth to two children. But she was forced to continue “working.” As night fell, her pimp expected her to service many clients to make as much money for him as possible.
Rose lost all hope for a better future, and was a silent voice in a world that couldn’t hear her cry for help.
The World Cup will inevitably increase the sexual exploitation of children.
Unfortunately, Rose’s story is not unique. Sexual violence is the second most reported type of crime against children in Brazil, with the majority of victims being girls between the ages of 10 and 14. In 2011, 10,425 children and adolescents were reported as having been the victims of sexual abuse, many as young as 11 years old.
Statistics show that sexual exploitation increased 30 percent during the 2006 World Cup in Germany and 40 percent during the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. Brazil is expected to see a similar increase.
Last year the National Crime Agency’s Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Command warned in its annual threat assessment that an influx of visitors to Brazil for the World Cup is likely to expand the child sex market.
Johnny Gwynne, the CEOP Command director said: “The majority of fans travelling to Brazil for the World Cup finals would be horrified at the thought of causing harm to the nation’s children. However, we know there are significant risks to children before, during and after major sporting events and some people will sexually exploit children for profit. … They are children, and they are being threatened and intimidated by unscrupulous people to make money.”
The campaign includes a short film that will be shown on British Airways flights from the UK to Brazil during the World Cup, highlighting the issue of child sex trafficking, and through the Football Association, all 5,000 UK football fans traveling to Brazil will receive information about the campaign.
The It’s a Penalty awareness campaign seeks to educate World Cup attendees. It’s a Penalty is aimed at the thousands of fans traveling to Brazil this summer and is supported by the England team manager Roy Hodgson and a number of team members. The campaign warns supporters of the risk of purchasing sex with children ages 17 and under.
The campaign is backed by the Brazilian government, the Foreign Office, Prime Minister David Cameron, the Football Association, Europol and the Metropolitan Police Service.
This piece was contributed by It’s A Pentalty, which is taking a stand against the sexual exploitation of children during the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.