British police have warned that criminal organisations are looking to exploit the influx of football fans for the World Cup in Brazil later this year by dressing up children as adult prostitutes for financial gain.
England fans were warned that they could expect prison sentences in South America or Britain for under-age sex, amid official warnings that Brazil was emerging as one of the most significant destinations for travelling child sex abusers.
Reports from Brazil have suggested that girls as young as 11 are dressed to look older than they are and forced into the sex trade. It is illegal in Brazil to pay for sex with a child aged 17 and under.
The country’s burgeoning economy and the award of this summer’s World Cup and the Olympics in two years is likely to trigger an expansion of child sex markets, according to the latest threat assessment by child protection experts.
The country is thought to be second only to Thailand for the commercial sexual exploitation of children, according to the National Crime Agency.
“Brazilian children suffer abuse in the commercial sex trade and may have their appearance manipulated to look older,” said Johnny Gwynne, the head of the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre.
“They are children and they are being threatened and intimidated to make money.”
Charities and police have launched a campaign to warn travelling fans of the dangers of having paid-for sex with children under the age of 17. A short film will be played on flights to the country during this summer’s World Cup.
Sexual violence is the second most reported type of crime against children in Brazil with the majority of child victims aged between 10 and 14. Around 600,000 foreign visitors are expected to visit Brazil for the World Cup, which starts on 12 June.