Brazil Too Lenient on Child Sex Predators

     Brazil Too Lenient on 
Child Sex Predators

    A Brazilian Congress
    Commission will propose changes in Brazil’s
    Penal Code to impose more rigorous punishment for sexual
    crimes against children and adolescents. Today, these crimes
    are considered "offenses against public morals" and not sexual
    crimes. And rape is a violation only when the victims are females.
    by: Benedito
    Mendonça

    Brazzil
Picture

    A Manifesto Against Child Sex Abuse and Exploitation got underway, May 6,
    along the main stretches of highways in Brazil. The objective is to alert truck
    drivers and transport company owners to the seriousness of the problem.

    Signatures are being gathered
    to support the campaign and will accompany a document to be delivered to President
    Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva on May 18, National Day to Combat the Abuse
    and Exploitation of Children and Adolescents.

    On this date the President
    is expected to sign the National Convention for the Eradication of Sexual
    Exploitation of Children and Adolescents, proposed by the National Congress’s
    Joint Parliamentary Investigating Commission (CPMI) responsible for probing
    this type of crime.

    The commission, which
    was installed last June, received around 800 denunciations from all over the
    country, visited 15 states, conducted outside inquiries, and will request
    the Federal Prosecutors Office (MPU) to indict approximately 100 people, among
    procurers and perpetrators of abuse.

    Arley Arseno, who is a
    trucker from the state of Paraná, in the South of Brazil, and has spent
    12 years transporting cargo on the country’s highways, confirms the monstrous
    increase in the number of children and adolescents who work as roadside prostitutes.

    According to him, one
    commonly sees many children in the 12-18 age bracket in this condition along
    highways throughout the country. The trucker blames the problem on the economic
    difficulties faced by low-income segments of the population.

    The roadblocks set up
    at the points where truck traffic is heaviest are under the command of representatives
    of units from the Social Service of Transportation (Sest) and the National
    Transportation Apprenticeship Service (Senat), with support from the National
    Childrens’ Rights Agency (Andi). They are also in charge of gathering signatures
    from the truck drivers.

    According to the director
    of the Sesf and the Senat, Antônio Cardoso, the purpose of the barriers
    is to gather signatures from all over Brazil for the president of the National
    Transport Confederation (CNT), Clésio Andrade, to show President Luiz
    Inácio Lula da Silva what is being done in this area. According to
    Cardoso, the drivers are starting to become aware that this is a crime, and
    they can serve as another channel of communication to help the Confederation
    attack the problem.

    Sites of Child Prostitution

    The CPMI on Sexual Exploitation
    received a survey from Federal Highway Police inspector Junie Pena of the
    principal locations where child prostitution is practiced along Brazilian
    highways.

    Pena informed that there
    are two new routes for trafficking children out of the country. They are transported
    by truck from the North of Brazil to Surinam and from the South, to Argentina
    and Uruguay.

    Deputy Maria do Rosário
    from Rio Grande do Sul’s Workers’Party (PT), rapporteur of the CPMI, said
    that some truckers facilitate the trafficking and exploitation of children
    and adolescents by transporting them from one state to another and even beyond
    the country’s borders.

    According to her, the
    CPMI will work to raise the consciousness of truckers and seek partnerships
    with the class to diminish the trafficking and exploitation of children and
    adolescents.

    The representative of
    the CNT, Maria Tereza Pantoja, observed that truckers, instead of being stigmatized,
    should be transformed into agents to help combat this crime. According to
    her, "the general issue is the poverty in Brazil, where 42 percent of
    the population doesn’t earn enough to sustain itself."

    Penal Code

    On June 8, the CPIM on
    Sexual Exploitation will present a set of changes that can be made in the
    Penal Code to impose more rigorous punishment for sexual crimes against children
    and adolescents. One of the main proposals is to convert these crimes from
    the Penal Code’s present category of "offenses against public morals"
    to "sexual crimes." Another important point is the broader interpretation
    of such crimes.

    According to the Penal
    Code, for example, rape is a violation only when the victims are females.
    Experts propose that the crime be classified as sexual violence against people,
    thus making it possible to punish attacks on boys with greater severity.

    The suggestions also include
    making it a crime to traffic people for sexual ends within Brazilian territory.
    Current legislation only considers international trafficking a crime. Another
    change that is proposed is the institution of public criminal charges for
    all sexual crimes.

    At present, it is only
    possible to begin an investigation when a private complaint is filed. The
    problem is that the overwhelming majority of incidents of sexual violence
    are committed by someone in the child’s own family and are thus hushed up.


    Benedito Mendonça works for Agência Brasil (AB), the official
    press agency of the Brazilian government. Comments are welcome at lia@radiobras.gov.br.

    Translated
    from the Portuguese by David Silberstein.

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