Monday, June 18, 2012

No Paraíso: Child Prostitution in Brazil

How Brazil Is Becoming a Top Destination for Child Prostitution

Brazil is an exotic country of lush forests in the Amazon, stunning colonial establishments in the Northeast, and breathtaking beaches along the coastline of Rio de Janeiro.  But inside the nation lies many sights that are far from idyllic.  Brazil, a country of roughly 190 million inhabitants, has the largest income disparity in the world aside from Sierra Leone.  There are over 20 million destitute Brazilians and 40 million orphaned children.  Only 20,000 families rule Brazil.

Out of desperation, some Brazilian women have children with the specific intent of turning them into child prostitutes and drug dealers.  This shocking trend has led to a highly controversial push to sterilize impoverished Brazilian women, most of whom are afrodescendente (afro-descended) and indio (Amerindian), which may constitute genocide.  Since 1994, Roland Lavigne, a Brazilan congressman and physician, has pushed for the sterilization of poor women, especially those belonging to the Pataxo Ha-Ha-Hae tribe, a small indigenous group. Years later, Sonia Muniz, a Pataxo Ha-Ha-Hae Indian and mother of four, had her Fallopian tubes tied. “I didn't want to do it, they made me. They had my name on a list”, she told American journalist Michael Astor. While forced sterilization has reluctantly reduced the birth rates of poor Indigenous women, it still has not proven to be effective against preventing child prostitution.