UK & World News
Brazil Sex Trade Selling Children For 80p
Children as young as 12 are selling themselves for sex for as little as 80p in one of Brazil's World Cup cities, a Sky News investigation has found.
It comes as international footballers join a campaign warning fans travelling to the tournament not to exploit children.
On the backstreets of Recife, in northeastern Brazil, we met a group of children aged between 12 and 17 who were sniffing glue. Some of the children were involved in prostitution.
Iraquetan Gomes de Oliveira, who described himself as the street owner, told Sky News: "They sell their bodies.
"They go to nightclubs and places they know people sell themselves, but also people come here and take them and pay for sex."
Glue bottle in hand, 12-year-old Elaine said she did not always feel safe and "bad things" sometimes happened on the street.
We were told that for 10 to 20 Reais (£2.55 to £5.10) she would allow men to take her home, to motels, or even to the local swamp for sex.
Rochelle, 17, told us she became a prostitute aged 13, following in the path of three of her sisters.
She said: "I went onto the streets. I ran away from home. I was doing drugs. I sold myself for around 10 or even five Reais. Sometimes I would even do it for three Reais (80p)."
The National Forum for the Prevention of Child Labour estimates there are half-a-million child sex workers in Brazil and it is feared many will be trafficked to tourist areas during the World Cup.
With this in mind the international charity Happy Child, supported by the UK's National Crime Agency, has launched a campaign called It's A Penalty.
The campaign warns those travelling to the World Cup that they face prison if they exploit children under the age of 18.
Football stars including David Luiz, Ramires and Frank Lampard take part in a video, which will be played on British Airways flights to Brazil during the tournament.
Former England player Gary Lineker, who is the campaign's ambassador, told Sky News: "You've got hundreds of thousands of fans travelling to one place and there are people who will exploit that situation.
"You just have to feel for those children who don't want to be in that situation."
The director of Happy Child, Sarah de Carvalho, added: "Football fans could well be approached by children on the streets who've been dressed up to look older than they are.
"Paid sex with a child is illegal in Brazil and people can be prosecuted either here or in Brazil.
"My heart is with those children because I've been working with many of them for the last 20 years and I know most of them don't want to be doing what they are doing."
Happy Child has helped rescue thousands of children from the streets, placing them in care homes part-funded by British donations.
However, we discovered Brazil's provision for these vulnerable children is scarce.
Sky News spoke to Recife's child welfare officer Fernando Dias. He and just five other staff look after 18 deprived boroughs populated by 300,000 people.
He said: "The vulnerability of this region is enormous, in particular with domestic violence, sexual violence, child labour - which is rife here.
"Due to the high number of crack addicts in particular, which has reached pandemic levels across the country, we know that there are mothers who negotiate their children for the drug, for sex."
The head of the police department, which fights child exploitation in Recife, is Zanelli Gomes Alencar.
He told Sky News: "We still haven't done any research into the gangs who exploit these youngsters due to the lack of resources, such as a special unit: for example, people exploiting young teenagers sexually in hotel chains."
Detective Alencar said his unit has been trying to take underage sex workers off the streets, but finds the state unable to keep them in care.
He said: "When we find these youngsters we then hand them over to the child welfare unit, they have to look for a shelter for them if they can't put them back with their family.
"So most of them end up in a shelter. From the shelter they would go back onto the streets.
"Some of them wouldn't even bother going to look for other places. They knew where they could get business.
"I picked up one of them 10 times in the same place over a two year period. The first time when she was 12 years old."
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