Alongside the economic growth that Brazil has experienced as an emerging market 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. In addition, child sex tourism from Europe remains a problem, particularly in coastal area resorts 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 Surinam, French Guiana, Guyana and Venezuela. Prostitution is legal from the age of 18. Sex with minors is illegal and severely punished when condemned (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.