The Infamous Link Between Sex Trafficking, Sex Tourism, and Sporting Events – What Lies Ahead for Brazil?

Source: The Home Foundation

Every time there is a major sporting event, whether it is the Olympics, World Cup or Super Bowl, the illegal multibillion dollar business in the trafficking in persons flourishes. With thousands of people expecting to attend the upcoming 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics, Brazil has a challenging road ahead with the following preparations. Not only is the Brazilian government updating infrastructure, purging the favelas (slums) of drug lords, and modernizing stadiums, but it also has to put a great continuous emphasis on the social issue of child sex trafficking and sex tourism.

Brazil, with a population of approximately 204 million, is the largest country by far in Latin America. According to the U.S. State Department’s 2011 Trafficking in Persons Report, Brazil is acknowledged as a huge source, transit and destination country for the trafficking in persons. In short, human trafficking consists of the recruitment, transportation and harboring of persons by means of threat or other forms of coercion for the purpose of exploitation, in order for the trafficker to receive payments and benefits. Different forms of trafficking exists, however, with regard to its correlation with sporting events, sex trafficking is in first place.

The commercial view of Brazil is that it is a country of samba, football and carnival. Unfortunately, many tourists visit the breathtaking country not for its culture, but for its renowned reputation of exotically striking people and as a center of personal freedoms. This erotic picture of Brazilians has gained negative attention from inappropriate tourists seeking sexual experiences abroad, whether or not it is consensual or legal, – thus, the sex tourism begins.

The number of children involved in the sex industry has dramatically increased over the years. Presently, UNICEF states that approximately 1.2 millionchildren are trafficked yearly, with as many as 2 million sexually exploited worldwide. According to Sarah de Carvalho of the charity, Happy Child International, “Brazil is overtaking Thailand as the world’s most popular sex-tourist destination”, increasing the number of children trafficked in and out of the country. This phenomenon has significantly developed as a direct result of an increase in the quantity of foreign tourists travelling to Brazil for the sole purpose of what is known as sex holidays, particularly in the northeast region. For instance, when asked about possible cases of sex trafficking with the upcoming festivities, Andreza Smith, lawyer of the NGO ‘Sodireitos’, stated, “Have you thought about a game in Manaus? Who will monitor the river?” Manaus is located in the northeast of Brazil, next to two major rivers, also popular as tourist destinations. With large rivers, comes the problem of human trafficking, since security seems to be lacking when it comes to monitoring river activities. Hopefully Brazil will look past their construction goals and tighten security measures in order to help decrease the presence of human trafficking during the events.

One might ask, does human trafficking increase during sporting events, or is it merely a matter of better security tactics that lead police to crack down on existing cases, leaving to a distorted image of the issue? This question may never be fully answered as it is difficult to differentiate the regular number of human trafficking cases, versus those that spike during sporting events such as the World Cup and Olympics. It is important to note that human trafficking figures are approximations, since the nature of the crime is hard to quantify, with numerous cases underreported. In order to attempt to answer this question, the previous sporting events such as the 2004 Greece Olympics, the 2006 Germany World Cup, and the 2010 South Africa World Cup, for example, should be examined to get a brief representation of the issue.

There seems to be a great deal of debate on the issue of human trafficking as associated with sporting events. When Greece hosted the 2004 Olympics, there was an alarming 95 percent increase in the number of human trafficking cases recorded during the event. However, when looking at the 2006 German World Cup human trafficking figures, according to a report by the Calgary-based anti-human trafficking NGO, The Future Group, “authorities implemented a wide range of actions to combat human trafficking during the event, with relative success. The result was that, while there was anincrease in prostitution, authorities did not detect a rise in human trafficking.” On the other hand, South Africa’s 2010 World Cup revealed that there was in fact a pronounced increase in human trafficking cases. A source interviewed by ESPN’s ‘Outside the Lines’, revealed that there was an increase in domestic trafficking, as well as the setting up of brothels in preparation for the World Cup. Time magazine also ran an article quoting a trafficker who was excited about the world cup bringing in business, stating, “Yeah, this is good! Us people are going to make a lot of money then if you know what you’re doing.” Furthermore, Zambian researcher, Merab Kambamu Kiremire, predicted that human trafficking flowing over from nearby countries would increase in the run-up to the event.

Nonetheless, Brazil is expecting a sex trafficking boom in conjunction with the World Cup and Olympics and has created an arsenal of tactics to fight this problem. For example, the program, “A Goal for the Rights of Children and Teenagers”, will train employees in the tourist industry and police forces on how to detect human trafficking cases. Also, the anti-trafficking program will focus on educating resident teenagers around the hosting cities about the issue, how to avoid being easy prey, and finding alternate ways of earning money rather than becoming underage prostitutes.

Whether or not one believes in the rapid increase of reported human trafficking cases that will be associated with the above cited sporting events, it must remain a top priority for all future host countries. Human trafficking is a serious human rights abuse and needs to be taken seriously. With progress on the drug lords’ removal from favelas, the Brazilian government will hopefully now look to expedite anti-trafficking tactics in order to rid traffickers and minimize sex tourism anticipated in the approaching athletic tournaments.

This analysis was prepared by COHA Research Associate Melissa Beale

6 thoughts on “The Infamous Link Between Sex Trafficking, Sex Tourism, and Sporting Events – What Lies Ahead for Brazil?

  • November 30, 2011 at 8:21 pm
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    Super Bowl 2011:
    According to the media hype There was supposed to be hundreds of thousands of under age child sex slaves kidnapped and forced to have sex with super bowl fans. At the Dallas Super Bowl 2011. WHAT HAPPENED TO ALL OF THEM????????????

    Well, as I predicted it was all a big lie told by various anti-prostitution groups and the Dallas Women’s Foundation which is a anti-prostitution group that lies in order to get grant money from the government and charities to pay their high salaries. As proved in the link below:

    Top FBI agent in Dallas (Robert Casey Jr.) sees no evidence of expected spike in child sex trafficking:

    “Among those preparations was an initiative to prevent an expected rise in sex trafficking and child prostitution surrounding the Super Bowl. But Robert Casey Jr., special agent in charge of the FBI’s Dallas office, said he saw no evidence that the increase would happen, nor that it did.
    “In my opinion, the Super Bowl does not create a spike in those crimes,” he said. “The discussion gets very vague and general. People mixed up child prostitution with the term human trafficking, which are different things, and then there is just plain old prostitution.” http://www.dallasnews.com/sports/super-bowl/local

    This myth of thousands or millions of underage sex slaves tries to make every sports fan a sex criminal. No matter what the sport is, or in what country it is in.

    Brian McCarthy isn't happy. He's a spokesman for the NFL. Every year he's forced to hear why his customers are adulterers and child molesters. Brian McCarthy says the sport/super bowl sex slave story is a urban legend, with no truth at all.

    I do not like the idea of people getting the wrong information and believing lies, no matter what the topic is. The Sex trafficking, slavery issue is one of the biggest lies being told today. It is amazing to me how people will believe such lies so easily. The media is to blame for this. I wonder why they feel such a need to report wrong stats, numbers and information about this topic without doing proper research.

    There is a lot of controversy over the numbers of adult woman who are forced sex slaves. The real factual answer is that no one knows. There is hard evidence that the sex slavery/sex trafficking issue continues to report false information and is greatly exaggerated by politicians, the media, and aid groups, feminist and religious organizations that receive funds from the government, The estimate of adult women who become new sex slaves ranges anywhere from 40 million a year to 5,000 per year all of which appear to be much too high. They have no evidence to back up these numbers, and no one questions them about it. Their sources have no sources, and are made up numbers. In fact if some of these numbers are to believed which have either not changed or have been increased each year for the past twenty years, all woman on earth would currently be sex slaves. Yet, very few real forced against their will sex slaves have been found.

    Sex trafficking is illegal and the pentities are very severe. It is very difficult to force someone to be a sex slave, they would have to have 24 hour guards posted and be watched 365 days a year, 24 hours per day. Have the threat of violence if they refused, and have no one notice and complain to the authorities or police. They would need to hide from the general public yet still manage to see customers from the general public and not have the customers turn the traffickers in to the police. They would need to provide them with medical care, food, shelter, and have all their basic needs met. They would need to have the sex slaves put on a fake front that they enjoyed what they were doing, act flirtatious and do their job well. They would have to deal with the authorities looking for the missing women, and hide any money they may make, since it comes from illegal activity. They must do all of this while constantly trying to prevent the sex slaves from escaping and reporting them to the police. They would need to prevent the general public from reporting them into the police. This is extremely difficult to do, which makes this activity rare. These criminals would be breaking dozens of major laws not just one. Kidnapping itself is a serious crime. There are many laws against sex trafficking, sex slavery, kidnapping, sex abuse, rape, sexual harassment etc. If someone is behind it, they will be breaking many serious laws, be in big trouble, and will go to jail for many long years. And do you actually think that there is a long line of people who want to have a career as a sex slave kidnapping pimp?

    Here are some good websites about sex trafficking:
    http://bebopper76.wordpress.com
    http://sextraffickingtruths.blogspot.com/
    http://www.villagevoice.com/sex-trafficking/
    http://www.melonfarmers.co.uk/thread00272_traffic

    Reply
    • January 31, 2012 at 9:01 am
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      While I understand your concern that numbers may be overstated, I find it disappointing that you flagrantly disregard the power of psychological coersion and the harsh realities of corrupt or ineffective law enforcement. It will always be challenging to get accurate numbers on a notoriously hidden element of criminal activity, but to broadly paint such a serious issue as a myth conjured up by greedy aid-workers is irresponsible.

      P.S. I'm not an aid worker, a journalist or politician and have no personal gain in fuelling a myth. Maybe it is easier for you to think that these people don't exist than to admit that they do, that they are enslaved and that you are doing nothing about it.

      Reply
  • March 19, 2012 at 9:18 am
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    How can you post "dallas news" which has a link to its own blog, which states
    "Two weeks before the Feb. 6 game, the North Texas Trafficking Task Force began conducting undercover operations. It found eight cases of human trafficking, four of which involved minors, said Carl Rusnok, a local spokesman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement"
    So that was 8 cases of human trafficking, 2 involving minors, found in a period of 2 weeks BEFORE the games.

    Also, all of the links you posted are to, your "good websites" are blogs. Blogs are freely published
    academic material or research councils have paid to have their research published because it has based ethical clearance and have been chosen to be reliable.. So how can you complain that people arent using correct sources, when you are leading people to purely opinion based sites.

    Reply
  • March 19, 2012 at 9:18 am
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    Also, i cant help but be angry at your
    "WHAT HAPPENED TO ALL OF THEM???????????? "

    Does it pass your clearly genius mind that people who have sex with children, dont do so in public, or go and report themselves to the police. as reality check said.. It is psychological coersion that keeps these people (not just children) in the trafficking circle. Go read some victims accounts of what happens to them, blackmail and death threats are stronger than forcingly keeping people tied down.
    Yes, there are many laws against sex trafficking, that doesnt mean it doesnt happen!! People want to be in the industry because it makes money! Yes, there are lots of people who have careers in it, because of the millions it makes. Governments have even described the trafficking industry as the 2nd largest industry in the world profit wise.

    Go open your mind, and read some real sources of information you poor narrow minded fool

    Reply
  • April 25, 2013 at 10:59 pm
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    Hello! Do you use Twitter? I’d like to follow you if that would be ok. I’m undoubtedly enjoying your blog and
    look forward to new posts.

    Reply
  • August 12, 2013 at 9:19 pm
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    It’s also a little naive to think that these sex slaves are kept alive for lengthy periods of time. These victims are treated horribly, being that they are sex slaves and all. I would never imagine someone who is operating and illegal sex slave operation to really care about his “workers” medical attention, their privacy, their families, their basic human rights just to name a few things… there are little SURVIVORS for a reason.

    “Sex trafficking is illegal and the pentities are very severe. It is very difficult to force someone to be a sex slave, they would have to have 24 hour guards posted and be watched 365 days a year, 24 hours per day. Have the threat of violence if they refused, and have no one notice and complain to the authorities or police. They would need to hide from the general public yet still manage to see customers from the general public and not have the customers turn the traffickers in to the police. They would need to provide them with medical care, food, shelter, and have all their basic needs met. They would need to have the sex slaves put on a fake front that they enjoyed what they were doing, act flirtatious and do their job well. ”

    It’s as if you think this sex shop should be ran as of some kind of whore house where these women have to “play nice” and “act pretty” because it’s their job… their JOB?!? Because they put in their resume and had the best qualifications to become a victim of this horrible crime??? Yes, I would assume it is hard to run one of these sex houses you imagine, but the money backing them is what is able to have guards 24.7.365, to drug these girls, to kill these girls when they can’t work anymore…..

    I get it, I am just as frustrated as you are with the media and their quickness to leap onto a story and spread lies. But you have to know where to look before you start pointing your fingers too. All of the horrible shit in the world that you hope doesn’t happen, does whether or not you choose to accept it. Whether or not the numbers are always exact. The point is that it happening, and just like RealityCheck stated earlier, you are just sitting here calling it a myth doing nothing for its benefit.

    Reply

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