Human Trafficking In Brazil: A Scenic Countryside of Slaves

Every year, the U.S. State Department releases a Trafficking in Persons report which rates countries on their efforts to combat human trafficking.  Each week, I’ll be providing a brief glance at human trafficking in one of those countries, based off the 2009 Trafficking in Persons Report, with my own (often snarky) analysis added.  This is just a snapshot of what’s going on in the country.  For more information, you can check out the full text of the 2009 Trafficking in Persons Report here.

This Week’s Country …  Brazil

Basic Info

The U.S. State Department ranks Brazil on Tier 2, meaning the country doesn’t comply with the minimum standards of trafficking prevention, protection, and prosecution, but they’re working really hard to do so … when they’re not partying in the streets. But despite this reasonable rank, both local and international NGOs have found evidence that internal trafficking of Brazilians, especially into forced labor, is monumental in its scope. The irony is that a nation that has worked to cultivate its citizens’ reputation as beautiful, leisure-loving, and party-hopping could actually be built on the backs of slaves. Despite the Brazilian government’s efforts, it remains a source, transit, and destination country for trafficking victims, both internationally and internally.

So does Brazil have the political and economic stability to truly tackle trafficking? The vast rural areas of the country pose a significant challenge, and there are a number of wealthy plantation owners who don’t want the laws or their enforcement to change at all. On the other hand, Brazil has a growing number of NGOs on their side, trying to help.

Who Are the Victims and What Are They Doing?

The primary group of victims in Brazil is children, and they are being sold into both commercial sex and forced labor industries. The Brazilian Federal Police believe that up to 400,000 children a year are sold in prostitution, especially at resorts and in other tourist areas. Notably, Brazil has seen the exploitation of young boys in commercial sex more than some other places. Adult women are trafficked into the commercial sex industry as well, and they are often trafficked abroad or to other parts of the country. Slave labor of both children and adults is also a significant problem in Brazil, mostly within the large agricultural sector. Brazilian slaves have been found working in the production of sugar cane, ethanol, cattle, corn, cotton, soy, charcoal, and other industries.

Where Are They Coming From and Where Are They Going?

A significant portion of human trafficking in Brazil is internal, but it is also a source country for people, especially women and children, trafficked overseas. Brazilian women and children are often trafficked to Spain, Portugal, the Netherlands, Suriname, Guyana, Venezuela, and Paraguay. Brazil also attracts child sex tourists, who travel from Europe and the U.S. to abuse local children in the country. To a lesser extent, men, women, and children from Bolivia and Paraguay are trafficked into Brazil to work in factories and garment manufacturing.

What’s Gotta Happen?

The Brazilian government needs to increase the efforts to find and prosecute trafficking cases, especially labor trafficking cases which are too often ignored or overlooked as “bad jobs” or some other euphemism. Holding slave-holders accountable for their actions will be an important step for the Brazilian government to be able to move forward with the fight against trafficking. They also need to increase services for victims. At least 5000 men freed from one trafficking situation were re-trafficked in Brazil because they didn’t have the support they needed to avoid trafficking again. Finally, they need to start collecting better data, especially on the broad rural expanses of countryside where trafficking in agriculture is rampant.

Photo credit: babasteve


The URI to TrackBack this entry is:

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: