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SLAVERY TYPE Commercial sexual exploitation of children
TOTAL INVESTED $1.4 million

Brazil commercial sexual exploitation of children Hotspot Program, Com.Direitos

Hotspot start date: January 2022

In 2018, a Freedom Fund commissioned scoping study found that the commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC) is a vast but invisible problem in Brazil. Estimates cited by aid organizations vary between 100,000 and 500,000 victims and Brazil has been ranked second globally in number of children exploited to service the sexual demands of locals and tourists. Despite the staggering scale of the problem, CSEC remains almost invisible in the country. There is little official data recorded by law enforcement or government agencies. This lack of reliable data makes it virtually impossible to develop effective public policies. Further, the invisibility of child sexual exploitation is compounded by widespread community attitudes that either trivialise the problem or regard it as “normal” practice. By building the basis for locally owned and relevant solutions to tackle CSEC, we are bringing bring our visionary and innovative approach to create a high impact model to work towards ending CSEC in an area in Brazil with the highest rates.

The majority of children who fall victim to CSEC are Afro girls from the poorest and most vulnerable communities in Brazil. The paths leading to CSEC in Brazil vary. Children may be lured by men – often connected with their local school – into exchanging sexual “dates” for gifts, such as shoes, clothes or mobile phones, and don’t perceive themselves as victims. In some cases, families living in extreme poverty encourage their children to provide sexual services for food, small amounts of money or other goods to support themselves and/or their families. Some teenagers move to the city in search of a better life only to end up being exploited and involved in street sex work or trafficked by CSEC networks, saddled with a “debt” they can never repay.

Traditional gender norms, domestic and gender violence, and high socioeconomic inequality are at the root of the problem, which is also facilitated by impunity, drug trafficking, weak child protection networks, and naturalization of CSEC. The combination of severely underfunded local government structures and civil society, a limited understanding of the full extent of the situation, the lack of effective prevention strategies and alternatives for survivor inclusion, large impunity and a broad misconception and cultural acceptance by the Brazilian public about CSEC, have led to an uncoordinated strategy to tackle this problem.

Building on Freedom Fund’s successful hotspot model, the Brazil CSEC Hotspot program, Com.Direitos, is working in direct partnership with over 10 civil society, as well as in collaboration with local government and businesses to drive the strategic changes needed to eradicate the commercial sexual exploitation of children in the Recife Metropolitan Region, demonstrating a workable model that can be used in other regions of Brazil. To achieve this goal, the program focuses on the following objectives:

  1. Improved policies to confront CSEC and greater coordination among stakeholders to hold the government accountable for their implementation.
  2. Scientific knowledge about CSEC and survivors’ voices inform policies and programmatic responses.
  3. Survivors and vulnerable children have more support, information and skills to prevent and safely exit from CSEC.
  4. Social acceptance and demand for commercial sexual exploitation of children is decreased.
  5. Frontline organizations and survivor groups are strengthened to work together and improve their responses to CSEC.

We will demonstrate the impact of our approach by measuring our initiative against our in-depth prevalence study on CSEC in Brazil, which will enable us to develop scalable approaches and apply our learning and practices to address the issue on a national scale.

Read the briefing of our recent studies below:

Hotspot Annual Reports:

Photo: Natália Corrêa / Instituto Aliança / Freedom Fund