Reported violations of children’s rights in Brazil at 4,486 this year
Today is the National Day Against Child Abuse and Sexual Exploitation
Published in 18/05/2022 - 13:46 By Heloísa Cristaldo - Brasília
Data from Brazil’s Ministry of Women, Family and Human Rights show that this year 4,486 reports of human rights violations against children and adolescents linked to sexual violence have been registered. To raise awareness on the issue, the country today (May 18) is observing the National Day Against the Abuse and Sexual Exploitation of Children and Adolescents.
From January to December 2021, 18,681 such reports were counted among the complaints filed with Brazil’s Human Rights Ombudsman Office—18.6 percent of the total. The 2021 survey reveals that the most common rape setting stated is the home of both the victim and the suspect (8,494), the victim’s (3,330) and the suspect’s (3,098).
Step-parents (2,617), fathers (2,443) and mothers (2,044) are among the top suspects. In almost 60 percent of the reports, the victim was aged ten through 17. In approximately 74 percent of the cases, rape targets girls.
Despite the figures, the deterioration of the landscape is believed to be significantly affected by underreporting. According to the Ministry of Health, between 2011 and 2017, an average of 70 percent of the 527 thousand people raped in Brazil each year were children and adolescents, with 51 percent of the abused aged one through five years old.
NGO Plan International Brasil is conducting a number of initiatives to boost the fight against the sexual abuse and exploitation of children. Among the measures is a campaign dubbed Fato Certo Não Tem Erro (“Facts Make no Room for Errors” in a free translation from the Portuguese).
According to Elaine Amazonas, the NGO’s project manager in Bahia state, the initiative was designed to raise awareness among families, education professionals, and society at large about the consequences of misinformation and fake news on various topics, including sexual abuse.
“The materials created also provide a theoretical and legal foundation to the debate on gender identities. We have multiple materials, including a booklet with a basic introduction into rights, posts for social media, three Instagram filters—one of them a quiz about gender identities—and WhatsApp stickers,” she said.
The material also features five videos addressing issues such as transphobia, homophobia, teen pregnancy, sexual abuse, and sexually transmitted infections.
Also to be launched are podcasts with ten episodes discussing facts and fake news, showing, for instance, the difference between lies and fake news, with real stories about people who have suffered prejudice as a result of fake news.
Whenever a child feels uncomfortable, Elaine Amazonas advises, he or she must talk to an adult they trust to talk about the occurrence.
“This adult can be their father or mother, a caregiver or guardian, a close relative, a teacher, or maybe a health agent who can listen. For families, our advice is to really listen and take what the child is reporting seriously. Investigate, pay attention to signs, and bring the issue to the attention of specialized service providers that can take the necessary action—not only regarding the complaint itself, but also regarding the protection of this child or adolescent and follow-up measures,” she explained.
How to report
To raise awareness about the issue, the ministry also launched the campaign Maio Laranja (“Orange May”), aimed at encouraging the reporting of cases. In 2021, 48.4 percent (9,053) of the reports of sexual violence against children and adolescents through hotline Disque 100 ("Dial 100") were anonymous. Its call center operates 24/7, including on holidays.
The ministry has also released app Direitos Humans Brasil (“Human Rights Brazil”), as well as WhatsApp number 61-99656-5008 and Telegram Direitoshumanosbrasilbot (“Human Rights Brazil Bot”), with the same services. For children and adolescents, complaints can also be filed through app Sabe – Conhecer, Aprender e Proteger (“Know – Knowledge, Learning, and Protection”).
When the victim is a child or teenager, complaints are submitted to the Child Protective Council. If a violation is confirmed, the report is sent to police authorities or public prosecutors.
Translation: Fabrício Ferreira - Edition: Kleber Sampaio