Trafficking in Persons Report 2013: Brazil

Trafficking in Persons Report 2013: Brazil

By Dialogo
September 16, 2013

According to the 2013 Trafficking in Persons Report, Brazil is a large source, destination, and transit country for men, women, and children subjected to sex trafficking and forced labor. A significant number of Brazilian women and children are exploited in sex trafficking within the country, and federal police report higher rates of child prostitution in the Northeast. To a lesser extent, some women from neighboring countries, including Paraguay, have been exploited in sex trafficking in Brazil. Child sex tourism remains a problem, particularly in resort and coastal areas in Brazil’s northeast. Child sex tourists typically arrive from Europe and, to a lesser extent, the United States.

Under Brazilian law, the term trabalho escravo, or slave labor, is defined as forced labor or labor performed during exhausting work days or in degrading working conditions. While not all individuals identified as working in trabalho escravo are forced labor victims, one recent study noted that 60 percent of workers interviewed in rural trabalho escravo cases had experienced key indicators of forced labor, and numerous cases involving debt bondage were identified during the year. Some Brazilian men, and to lesser extent children, are subjected to trabalho escravo in rural areas, often on cattle ranches, charcoal production camps, sugar-cane plantations, as well as in logging, mining, and agricultural production. An NGO identified a strong link between trabalho escravo and environmental degradation and deforestation-related activities, particularly in the Amazon region.

Forced labor victims are commonly lured with promises of good pay by local recruiters known as gatos. Brazilians in trabalho escravo have also been identified in urban areas, primarily in construction, as well as in the restaurant and hospitality industries. Brazil is a destination for men, women, and children from Bolivia, Paraguay, Peru, and China in situations of trabalho escravo in garment factories and textile sweatshops in metropolitan centers, particularly Sao Paulo. Some Brazilian women and children, as well as girls from other countries in the region, have been subjected to domestic servitude.

The Government of Brazil does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. Authorities continued to prosecute and convict trafficking offenders, continued funding for 16 anti-trafficking offices, and increased awareness on trafficking in persons by launching well-publicized media campaigns about trafficking warning signs. The government also launched a national anti-trafficking plan and committed to spend the equivalent of approximately $2.9 million to implement it by 2014. Despite this progress, challenges remain. Brazilian officials continued to define trafficking as a movement-based crime and statutes prohibiting trafficking were both too broad and too narrow, making it difficult to assess fully government efforts to combat trafficking.

Recommendations for Brazil include increasing efforts to investigate and prosecute trafficking offenses, and convict and sentence trafficking offenders, including those involved in internal sex trafficking and vigorously investigating and prosecuting those who engage in the prostitution of children, including through child sex tourism; and amending legislation to apply more stringent sentences for trafficking offenders, among others.

In terms of prevention overall, the Brazilian government took steps to prevent human trafficking during the year, most significantly by formally launching the second national anti-trafficking plan for 2012-2016. The plan for movement-based trafficking established government priorities in several areas, including changing the law, increasing the number of anti-trafficking offices and assistance posts, and improving data collection.

In December 2012, the Sao Paulo state legislature passed a law strengthening state-level penalties for companies using trabalho escravo in their supply chain. The government took public measures to reduce demand for commercial sexual exploitation of children by continuing to raise awareness during the Carnival season. The Brazilian government provided anti-trafficking training to its military troops prior to their deployment abroad on international peacekeeping missions.