From slums and misery in Brazil, hundreds of children and teenagers leave each day in search of tourists. At home there is no food on the table. On the beaches of Fortaleza there are plenty of men eager for easy and cheap bodies. Left to themselves or encouraged by their parents into prostitution, many children try to survive with what the night of Fortaleza has to offer - sex and drugs.
NGOs are trying to rescue some of these children, but during the humid nights in northeast Brazil sleeping on the floor is the lesser of two evils for the 400 street children of Fortaleza. Homeless, without food or parental love they quickly become experts in petty theft, drugs, and prostitution. On the streets and in newspaper ads, all the Brazilian women sold to tourists are 18 years old; no more, no less. To avoid the police, who are now more attentive to child sexual exploitation, documents are falsified and they avoid the main streets.
It is estimated that every year 200,000 men travel to poor countries in search of sex. Fortaleza is very much on their route. Italians, Spaniards and Portuguese are the most frequent customers. The men get the pleasure, the girls the money; three to twenty Euros at the most. According to the latest data of the Brazilian geographical research, 62% of the population is living below the poverty line. Brazilians are at the mercy of the tourists. Women want to escape poverty and men believe that anything can be bought. The lack of opportunity turns the tourists in disloyal competition.
The industry is designed so that no law prevents exploiters from profiting from the misery of Brazil. Foreigners and also some Brazilians rent houses on the beach and taxi drivers take the girls there. In this industry profit is the law. Drug dealers realize that the prostitute is the best vendor. For the dealer it’s excellent, because he creates the dependency on the drug and it also creates a system of trafficking. It makes it impossible for her to denounce him because she also becomes a dealer.
Although rare, cases of imprisonment for sexual exploitation have increased in Brazil. But the industry knows how to take advantage of any gap in the legislation. Besides drugs and prostitution, sex tourism acts as a gateway for human trafficking.