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Brazil: Lawmakers to investigate child prostitution

Publish Date: 09 Jul 2004

Source: Agence France-Presse English Wire
By: Pablo Rodriguez

Brazil lawmakers to investigate child prostitution

BRASILIA, July 9 (AFP) - Brazil's lawmakers have requested an investigation of up to 250 people, among them politicians, judges, religious and business leaders, who are suspected of links to child prostitution.

The request was made by legislators who compiled a report documenting widespread cases of sexual abuse of children.

Among those implicated by the report are a vice governor of one of Brazil's states, a member of Congress, judges, a mayor and several city council members.

Maria del Rosario Nunes, the Workers Party delegate who wrote the 669-page report for the legislature, said that she was pressured not to include several of the persons named in the document.

"I shall not yield under pressure," she said.

The legislature approved the report late Thursday.

The report was written by a legislative bicameral investigative commission. It describes child prostitution rings allegedly organized out of police precincts, city halls and even family courts.

The report also named judges not directly implicated in the sexual abuse itself but who had been complicit with persons involved in the child prostitution rings.

During its yearlong investigation, the commission received 850 complaints of sexual abuse and exploitation of minors, some of whom were sent to other countries by land, air or sea.

Copies of the legislative inquiry will be sent to federal and state agencies for possible investigation and prosecution.

The report's call for urgent modifications of existing laws are to top the congressional agenda.

The authors of the report complained that authorities have shown little interest in battling the sexual exploitation of children.

They also described numerous cases of abuse, many among impoverished communities.

One of the cases mentioned is that of a father in the northern Rio Grande do Norte state who allowed a man to whom he owed money to have sexual relations with his then eight-year-old daughter, and prostituted another, even younger daughter for food.

The document also reported the case of a mute child who was regularly sexually abused and much in demand among pedophiles "because she could not scream while she was being raped and could not denounce the crime."

It also mentions a girl who was sexually abused by her stepfather between the age of seven and 11 and was later kicked out of her home. She then prostituted herself to survive, was pregnant at 13, sufferred a spontaneous abortion and died of AIDS in 2000.

"The logic of sexual exploitation is that of completely ignoring the feelings, needs and even the very existance of the victim as a human being," the report says.

"It is a process that dehumanizes by destroying the identity of the victims by transforming them into merchandise."

The report also describes the routes used in the trafficking of minors within and outside the country.

Nunes said it "analyzes the phenomenon of sexual exploitation and current public policies, maps the routes, indicates who is involved in those cases and calls for changes to the Brazilian Penal Code to impose tougher punishment for this crime."

© 2004 Agence France-Presse English Wire