Will World Cup tourists score a goal against child trafficking in Brazil?

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Brazil has the second highest rate of child trafficking for sex tourism in the world and many fear there could be an explosion in the sexual exploitation of minors during the World Cup season. While this makes uncomfortable reading, responsibletravel.com calls for the influx of World Cup tourists to be seen as an opportunity to significantly increase awareness of this issue, and empower tourists to help combat the problem.

If you see something suspicious and don't report it then you are almost complicit in the continuation of the child trafficking industry

More a continent than a country, everything in Brazil seems to be on a grander scale, and the problem with child sexual exploitation is no exception. For women aged 18 and over, prostitution is not a crime in Brazil, however it is estimated that between a quarter and half a million children* have been illegally trafficked for sex in the country, putting Brazil second only behind Thailand worldwide. Authorities in Brazil are also worried that this will have increased in the build up to the World Cup, with girls as young as 11 years old being trafficked in preparation for the floods of tourists converging on its cities.**

However, an increase in tourism for the tournament has been matched by an increase in initiatives to raise awareness of the problem. In the lead up to the World Cup Brazilian authorities have cracked down on child exploitation, distributing thousands of kits with information on how to report child abuse. Child protection organisations in partnership with the UK NCA have introduced the “It’s A Penalty” campaign, specifically targeted at tourists visiting the country for the World Cup. The latter is not only raising awareness that tourists sexually exploiting children aged 17 and under can face prosecution in Brazil and also in their home country, but is also targeting other tourists, empowering them to act if they see anything suspicious.

Responsibletravel.com has also included the issue of child sex tourism in their newly published two minute travel guide to Brazil, as part of its expert advice and tips on how to travel responsibly in the country. More can be found at http://www.responsibletravel.com/holidays/brazil#travel-guide.

Responsibletravel.com's Justin Francis says “The problems with child trafficking in Thailand are well known, but less is heard of the huge problem in Brazil, which is why having the spotlight of the World Cup is an opportunity to see a real increase in awareness.” He adds, “If you see something suspicious and don’t report it then you are almost complicit in the continuation of the child trafficking industry. This is a worldwide issue and it is the responsibility of all travellers and tourism organisations to be aware and know what to do if they see a child in danger.*

So what can concerned tourists do? The new responsibletravel.com guide to Brazil recommends:

  • If you see a child in danger then report it. Either to local police or call 100, free from any public or private phone in Brazil.
  • Visit http://www.itsapenalty.com to find out more about the issues in Brazil

Child protection has become an increasingly prominent issue in responsible tourism, with the overall accolade of the 2013 World Responsible Tourism Awards going to a TUI Nederland project in north-east Brazil after Head Judge Harold Goodwin was “impressed by TUI Nederland's willingness to raise this sensitive issue [of child sex tourism] with their clients and Dutch travellers in general, in order to urge them to take action and to report their suspicions when abroad.” Responsibletravel.com last year removed over 42 orphanage volunteering trips from its site over child protection concerns, and this was also a key theme discussed by leading tourism and NGO experts during World Responsible Tourism Day at World Travel Market, London in 2013.

*2010 Human Rights Report: Brazil, from state.gov

Notes to editors:

About responsibletravel.com

responsibletravel.com is the world's leading online travel agent for responsible holidays and a pioneer of responsible tourism. Started in 2001 with backing from Dame Anita Roddick of The Body Shop the site's mantra is 'travel like a local'. It sells holidays that are about more than just a brief stay somewhere - instead it is travel that offers a real connection with the people, the landscape, the culture, the food and the environment. It offers over 7,500 responsible holidays from over 3,000 holiday providers which all support communities and conservation. Handpicked local specialists provide authentic holidays for those seeking adventure or culture whether travelling with family, joining a small group or looking for tailor-made experiences worldwide, as diverse as trekking the Inca Trail - http://www.responsibletravel.com/holidays/inca-trail-trek, watching orangutans - http://www.responsibletravel.com/holidays/orangutan and seeing the Northern Lights - http://www.responsibletravel.com/holidays/northern-lights-watching

In addition responsibletravel.com:

  • founded and organises The World Responsible Tourism Awards, celebrating 11 years at World Travel Market, London this year.
  • campaigns for positive change in the travel and tourism industry.
  • publishes an expanding series of honest, expert 2 minute travel guides

CEO Justin Francis has been included in Courvoisiers The Future 500, Thames and Hudsons 60 Innovators Shaping Our Creative Future and taken his place on the Advisory Board of The International Centre for Responsible Tourism at Leeds Metropolitan University.

The company is based in Brighton's North Laine district, England.

Sarah Bareham
01273 829 269 (UK)

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Sarah Bareham
since: 09/2009
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