Juliana* lives alone on the streets of Recife, Brazil. She is only a child, but her childhood is already lost. In her eyes is a reflection of exploitation and pain. Tragically, she is one of many children in this city with a similar story.
Recife, where Juliana lives, is one of twelve cities that will be hosting the World Cup this summer. On the surface, Recife is known for its golden beaches, but a closer look reveals a booming sex trade. Statistics indicate that 250,000 to 400,000 children are trafficked within Brazil’s borders, through cities like Recife, every day. With thousands of World Cup tourists expected to flood the country, a devastating tsunami of sexual exploitation is anticipated. Now, more than ever before, Brazil’s children need help if they are to escape the oppression that accompanies life on the streets.
Alone and vulnerable, these children are easy targets for traffickers who coerce them into the nightmare of prostitution.The vicious cycle often starts with traffickers sending impoverished children to sell gum and knickknacks in popular tourist spots. In order to eat, avoid beatings, or feed drug addictions, the children become reliant on the traffickers and are enslaved in a lifestyle of abuse.
Juliana is one of these children. Orphaned at age eight, the park is her home. The children she meets on the streets are her family. They band together when they can, sleeping side-by-side for warmth and teaching each other about life on the streets. For Juliana, who was previously abused and who lives in a culture where selling women is customary, being used for sex seems the only option for survival.
Night after night, Juliana is sold to johns for as little as 10 reis each ($4.50 USD).
Juliana’s story confirms an urgent need. Without intervention and restoration, her chances for a future outside of the sex industry are nonexistent. This is why we’ve launched Liberdade, our initiative to bring freedom to the victims of sex trafficking in Brazil. As the World Cup descends on the nation this summer, Exodus Cry will partner with Brazilians to pray and fight for the lives of girls like Juliana. Through twelve houses of prayer and strategic outreach all across Brazil, our goal is to reach 1,000 women and girls and offer them avenues of escape and refuge through local safe homes and church communities.
Please consider supporting Liberdade and all of Exodus Cry’s initiatives to bring freedom to the captives around the world.
*Names have been changed to protect privacy.