Despite the economic growth that Brazil as an emerging market has experienced in recent years, there has been great income inequality and serious crime. Street children and children from the favelas (slums) are particularly vulnerable to sexual abuse and exploitation. Thousands of children each year are victims of child prostitution in cities like Fortaleza and Rio de Janeiro. Child sex tourism has been a problem for over 20 years in Brazil, particularly during Carnival or international events.


While varied, crime (often drug-related) and socio-economic factors are often cited as major causes. The perpetrators are mainly local men. Additionally, child sex tourism from Europe remains a problem, particularly in resort and coastal areas in the northeast of Brazil. Brazil is a source, transit and destination country for children who are victims of child trafficking and sexual exploitation, both within the country and in neighbouring countries such as Suriname, French Guiana, Guyana and Venezuela. Prostitution is legal from 18 years of age. Sex with minors is illegal and severely punished (imprisonment of 10 years is not uncommon).


Free a Girl supports two projects in the city of Fortaleza, which is notorious for its large number of children exploited in prostitution. They are also at major international events held in Brazil, such as the Olympic Games.