In April 2014, we asked for your prayers for Fortaleza, Brazil. Fortaleza, the fifth largest city in Brazil, is known for its pristine beaches and lurid sex tourism industry. The city’s newest claim to fame is the Castelão stadium, which served as one of the venues for the 2014 FIFA World Cup. With an anticipated 600,000 international soccer fans crowding Fortaleza’s city streets during the games, abolitionists and human rights advocates were concerned about increases in the demand and purchase of sex, especially with minors.
Even before the World Cup, “cultural machismo,” extreme poverty, and rampant drug use had combined to create an environment conducive to human trafficking and an active sex industry.1 Despite initiatives by the Brazilian government to eradicate child prostitution, particularly as the dates for the FIFA games approached, the number of children being prostituted had more than doubled in the last three years.2
But God is powerful, and he hears our prayers.
In June 2014, we followed up our prayer request by sending a team to Fortaleza as part of Liberdade, our initiative aimed at taking a stand against sexual exploitation in Brazil. On the same night that our team arrived, eight brothels were closed and ten pimps were arrested in a complex sting operation triggered by the state’s Public Ministry. In addition, search and seizure warrants were issued and many incriminating documents were confiscated. None of the girls were arrested because the police recognized “the crime was not prostitution, but sexual exploitation.”3
These developments were significant. In the past, very few of Fortaleza’s brothels have ever been closed. And this police action reveals key changes in the city’s law enforcement of sex trafficking.
Our team was ecstatic to see God’s power at work in setting the captives free. We are grateful for God’s intervention and for supporters like you who embrace the cause and pray powerfully and deliberately in response to our requests. Please continue to pray for the city of Fortaleza, for an end to exploitation in Brazil, and for healing and restoration in the lives of women and children who are waiting for freedom.
- Brasileiro, Adriana. “Brazil’s Child Sex Trade Thrives as World Cup Looms.” Reuters, December 3, 2013. http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/12/03/us-brazil-prostitution-idUSBRE9B205O20131203.
- Kachani, Morris. “Authorities Powerless to Stop Sex Tourism Boom in Fortaleza.” Folha De S.Paulo, June 19, 2014. http://www1.folha.uol.com.br/internacional/en/sports/worldcup/2014/06/1472912-authorities-powerless-to-stop-sex-tourism-boom-in-fortaleza.shtml.
- Sisnando, Jessika. “MPE Closes 8 Brothels and Arrest 10 People.” Policia Diario Do Nordeste, June 5, 2014. http://diariodonordeste.verdesmares.com.br/mobile/cadernos/policia/mpe-fecha-8-prostibulos-e-prende-10-pessoas-1.1030146.
- Additional Resource: Darlington, Shasta. “Brazil Tackling Child Prostitution for World Cup.” CNN International, April 2, 2014. http://edition.cnn.com/2014/04/02/sport/football/cfp-brazil-world-cup/.