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Child and adolescent rights: a strategic concern for the EU in Brazil

2 May 2014
Sport is known to empower youth and create a favorable scenario for their development. At the same time, the so-called major sporting events can expose vulnerable children and adolescents to violent situations, such as sexual exploitation.

On the basis of these two realities, Plan International Brazil participated in the 3rd EU-Brazil Seminar on Civil Society and Human Rights drawing attention to the benefits of sport in promoting and protecting child and adolescent rights, as well as the risks they are likely to face in sporting events such as the World Cup, now around the corner.

This event was one of a series that the Delegation of the European Union in Brazil held during the last weeks, aiming to define its priorities in the years to come. Third sector organisations used this opportunity to present their contributions to human rights projects, emphasising education in sport, which should be considered as part of the EU’s strategic plan in the country.

Conclusions and recommendations of this seminar were incorporated as part of the dialogue agenda between the Brazilian government and the EU Delegation.

Children’s rights and sports

During the event, Dario Lopez Desvars, Resource Mobilisation Manager at Plan International Brasil, spoke about how sport can promote and protect children’s rights in the context of major sporting events, and what the organisation has done to fight sexual violence targeted at children and adolescents. “We have already implemented various projects with the European Union globally. Joining with the EU at this time in Brazil makes it possible to bring the protection of child and adolescent rights into the agenda between institutions and the Brazilian government,” he said.

On this note, Dr. Celia Brackenridge, one of the world’s top researchers in the field, pointed to four risks typically faced by children in major sporting events: child labour, displacement of children from their homes as the development of infrastructure forces them to live on the streets, commercial sexual exploitation and child trafficking.

World Cup in Brazil

The twelve Brazilian venues where the next World Cup will be played out are expected to attract more than 600,000 foreign tourists over a month-long period. Unfortunately, sexual tourism has proven to be wide-spread practice in previous editions, with almost 7,000 cases reported in the 12 World Cup host cities.

Meanwhile in Brazil, sexual violence is the second most reported crime against children, with most victims aged between 10 and 14. Only between 2010 and 2012, almost 30,000 new cases of child sex exploitation were reported to the service Disque 100 (Child Help Line), an average of 294 cases per month.

Given this scenario, Dario Lopez Desvars stressed the importance of strengthening sport as a generator for children and adolescents, as “it promotes the empowerment of young people, their communities and families”.  Lopez noted that these aspects give the necessary support to denounce any type of violence, affirming that “sport can be a fundamental psychosocial factor for victims of violence, working with education, health and the right to inclusion as opposed to discrimination, gender equality among other benefits.”



Editor's notes

Children Back in the Game

In February, Plan launched the campaign “Children Back in the Game”. The objective is to alert the public to child protection risks during the World Cup and make tourists conscious of the rise in exposure and vulnerability of children and adolescents to violent situations. By means of TV and cinema commercials, ads in national publications, illustrated material to be distributed in Brazil’s major airports and a steady social media campaign, Plan aims to reach not only the Brazilian population, but also international tourists that will attend the event, encouraging thought and denunciation via Disque 100.