Metres away from a Sao Paulo stadium packed with fans pumped on World Cup fever, girls as young as nine are selling their bodies to survive.
They’re prostituting themselves for the price of a soft drink, lured in by pimps addicting them to crack cocaine, toxic glue and other drugs.
This startling reality was presented in a Four Corners report last night, which looked into Brazilian Parliamentary reports, confirming some children have even been trafficked to World Cup host cities to meet the demand from an estimated 600,000 tourists.
Some of the children are living – and working – just blocks from the major World Cup stadiums.
The World Cup is a celebration. A time when countries come together. It’s about passion, jubilation, equality. Hidden beneath this veneer lies the underbelly of Brazil, where child prostitution and drug cartels are booming.
During the World Cup experts have anticipated a 30 to 40 percent increase in child prostitution – despite it being illegal.
Fifteen-year-old Gabriella was lured to Rio with the promise of a better life – a job in a coffee shop. When she arrived, she was forced into prostitution: “They threatened me. They said if I refused they would beat me.”
Another 13-year-old girl who is working on the streets, revealed that she is HIV positive. She said that she’s been selling her body for drugs, for drinks, for money and to make a living since she was nine. All in a desperate attempt to earn money.
Liliam Sa, the Chair of the Parliamentary Inquiry into Child Exploitation, revealed many tourists would be travelling to Brazil to actively seek out minors for sex. She said, “we’re going to have millions of tourists throughout Brazil … but we have these sexual exploitation gangs who are going to try and use the tourists, some of whom come with pre-conceived ideas that were sold to them about Brazil, that here having sex with children is easy”.