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A car pulls up. The girl climbs in. This is a common scene around the stadium in Fortaleza, considered Brazil's child prostitution capital and a magnet for sex tourism, according to local authorities. Transvestites also work the dusty pavements of this newly renovated thoroughfare but young girls are in higher demand.
You'll find them around town during the day too. Despite more than a decade of government pledges to eradicate child prostitution, the number of child sex workers in Brazil stood at about half a million in , according to the National Forum for the Prevention of Child Labor, a non-governmental organisation. That's a fivefold increase since , when , children worked in the sex trade, according to estimates by Unicef, the UN children's charity. And with the World Cup approaching in June, officials and campaigners fear an explosion in child prostitution as sex workers migrate to big cities from interior states and pimps recruit more young people to meet increased demand from local and foreign football fans.
But the authorities have a battle on their hands as sex workers prepare to cash in on a bumper trade. The Minas Gerais State Association of Prostitutes, which represents sex workers in one of Brazil's largest states, is even offering free English lessons to prostitutes in the capital Belo Horizonte, another World Cup host city.
In contrast, very little is being spent on fighting the sexual exploitation of minors, campaigners say. The Human Rights Secretariat has set aside 8m reals for host cities to set up projects to fight child prostitution, but not all cities have programmes in place to absorb the funds, Santos says. His department is finishing a review of child prostitution in key locations and will then decide what action to take. But any programmes will scratch only the surface.
Beyond the Human Rights Secretariat, the government could not provide accurate data on total spending to fight child prostitution but campaigners say some schemes have been shut down. They argue that the government is not doing enough to address the problem. Sex tourism occurs across Brazil but Fortaleza — one of the north-east's top tourist destinations with white sandy beaches and about days of sunshine — is the industry's main hub.