Liberdade has officially begun! Our team recently returned from Brazil where our screenings tour was a wild success. We met with pastors in each of the 12 cities slated to host the 2014 World Cup. At each Nefarious screening and abolition workshop, we met individuals who are interceding for spiritual awakening and whose hearts are burdened for victims of sex trafficking. We forged powerful connections with passionate individuals who are ready to carry out the Liberdade initiative across the nation. It is clear that the Lord is already at work in Brazil. Read on for some of the highlights from our trip.
In addition to our efforts to raise awareness through screenings and workshops, we also sought legislative reform through presentations and meetings with key officials. At the National Congress in Brasilia, we had a special audience with the Congressional Committee on human trafficking, the creators of the nation’s federal anti-trafficking legislation. For more than an hour, we reviewed the problems that result from a system of decriminalized prostitution. We also discussed the Nordic Model and possible anti-trafficking solutions. We called on the government officials to amend policy in this critical time before the influx of World Cup activities and tourism. At a minimum, we recommended that the purchase of sex from trafficking victims be criminalized and that the definition of trafficking in Brazilian federal law be updated to conform with United Nations’ Protocol. This protocol specifies that anyone under the age of 19 who is exploited in prostitution is defined as a victim of trafficking. These two changes could have a massive impact on trafficking and prostitution in the nation.
We also met with Flavia Morais, the author and regulator of the nation’s new anti-trafficking bill. She and her advisors were receptive to our recommendations regarding changes that need to be made to the proposed law.
In Sao Paulo, Brazil’s largest city, we held multiple screenings that culminated in a two-day abolition workshop. During this time, we partnered with local organizations to offer practical training on prayer, raising awareness, and outreach to victims of sexual exploitation. The workshop provided a powerful experience for all participants. As a result, citizens became more educated about the extensive nature of this injustice in their city and empowered to take part in prevention and intervention efforts.
In this city, we also met with a prominent state deputy and his wife who is a member of the city council. The couple are advocates for victims and have previously been involved in anti-trafficking legislation. They were receptive to our recommendations regarding reform.
A highlight from our visit to Belo Horizonte was the screening of Nefarious at a ministry school that runs a 16-hour a day prayer room. The entire student body attended the screening, and the whole school will be involved with Liberdade.
In Curitiba, the capital of the state of Parana, our audience with the legislative assembly included all of the state deputies, approximately 40 in total. We were also invited to speak with the city councilwoman, the police, and other state officials regarding the use of policy to prevent sex trafficking.
In Cuiaba, a large number of teenagers and young adults attended our screening. After the presentation, we were swamped by individuals who wanted to take immediate action to abolish slavery and end human trafficking. For our team members, it was unbelievably encouraging to see people embrace the mission with such fervor.
The Journey Continues…
It’s been three years since we started a quest to understand and combat sex trafficking in Brazil. With the World Cup scheduled to begin in less than a year, we are more committed than ever to seeking freedom and protection for victims of trafficking and sexual exploitation in all of the host cities. Our most recent journey reaffirmed that the Lord’s work has begun. Everywhere we traveled, we were met by others who share our desire to raise awareness, provide training for abolitionists, and promote legislative reform. Thank you to everyone who has helped along the way. We appreciate your prayers and support as Liberdade takes root and continues to grow in Brazil.