“Do what it takes for as long as it takes to restore a broken life”: Supporting Hagar International, by Deirdre Dobson-Le

The Road Near Rio’s Olympic Village Where 9-year-old Girls are being Sold for Sex, by Candace Sutton

ro 4 A

Around a bend on one of Brazil’s longest highways, only a 50-minute drive from Rio de Janeiro’s Olympic village, girls as young as nine are selling their bodies to truck drivers for money.

Just a few miles from the glittering new stadiums where the world’s elite athletes are gathering to battle it out for Olympic gold is a shabby world of poverty, violence and child exploitation.

The BR-116 runs for 2800 miles between the World Cup stadium host city Fortaleza in the far north of Brazil to Brazil’s largest city Sao Paulo, where the Arena de Corinthians will stage Olympic soccer games in the south.

The road is nicknamed the Highway of Death (Rodovia da Morte) for its mortality rate due to many accidents and unstable weather and conditions along the route.

But its real misery occurs at 262 truck stops along its way, where female children are sold for sex, often by their own families, sometimes as part of a town’s unofficial bartering system.

ro 1Two underage sex slaves near the football stadium in Fortaleza, Brazil before the 2014 World Cup soccer. Picture: BBC. Source:Supplied

As more than 10,000 athletes and spectators fly in from around the world for the $10 billion 2016 summer Olympics, local activists are drawing attention to the reality of the young girls drawn into a life of sex slavery and drug addiction.

At Meninadanca, an organization established to stop the exploitation of at-risk girls in towns along the BR-116, the real life stories are mind blowing.

When a Meninadanca team visited the remote town of Candido Sales, which is bisected by the BR-116, they discovered that underage girls in the town were regularly offered to men as prizes in raffles.

(Related: How To Spot (And Rescue A Sex Trafficking Victim)

Trucks and heavy goods vehicles clog the road lined with bars and brothels through the town, just miles away from the dirt brick homes where Brazilian families live in poverty.

ro 2Child prostitutes as young as 11 work in this slum which lines the fence of the 2016 Olympic football stadium in Sao Paulo. Picture: Jota Roxo. Source:Supplied

Sex trafficking gangs target the town and poor families are vulnerable to offers of money for their little girls.

But even the Meninadanca workers were surprised when a town council psychologist told them raffles were held regularly with the winning ticket holder’s prize being the right to abuse a particular girl being sold.

The psychologist Gleyce Farias said “Candido Sales is a small town, but every day we hear of another girl who has been sold.

“I had to stop a mother from allowing her 12-year-old daughter to ‘marry’ a 60-year-old man, for money of course.

“Another 13-year-old girl ended up in hospital because of the abuses she suffered. She told us how from the age of nine she was made to watch pornographic films, and men would pay her to touch them.”

ro 3By the age of 13, Lilian (above) had been sold to truck drivers by her mother for $4 a time. Picture: Matt Roper. Source:Supplied


ro 4Leidiane, 11, worked on the BR-116 highway but became addicted to crack and couldn’t be saved. Picture: Matt Roper. Source:Supplied

As the Rio Olympics are now underway, Meninadanca is attempting to lure the world media’s attention away from the excitement of the games to the confronting scenes beyond.

Matt Roper, a journalist and author, has held a walk of the BR-116 and Meninadanca’s Facebook page has an “adopt a kilometer” program on me for each section of the highway to raise money for the non-government organization.

As the final preparations are made on Rio’s 32 sporting venues, and last minute concerns centre on the Zika virus, Russia’s doping ban and pollution at the Guanabara Bay sailing ground, Meninadanca is tying pink ribbons along the highway.

Roper has helped establish ‘pink house’ refuges for girls rescued from the highway, although he admits many times it is too late.

(To read more of this article, please follow the link below…)


Australian mum raises over $100,000 to build safe-house for abused girls, by Belinda Jepsen


Australian blogger Constance Hall has harnessed the power of her loyal social media following to raise funds for a charity that supports sexually abused Kenyan girls.

The response has been overwhelming, with over $100,000 rolling in in less than a day.

Hall was made aware of the cause after being contacted by a full-time volunteer for Rafiki Mwema –  a not-for-profit organisation that offers a safe house, counselling, medical care, legal support and community education to young female victims of sexual violence in the east African country.

As Hall wrote:

“Some of these young survivors have been sexually abused to the point of needing surgery, some prostituted from the age of 2 (yep, you read that correctly 2-years-old) some aren’t able to communicate to anybody without covering their faces due to the shame they believe they have brought on themselves.”

Sadly, Rafiki Mwema has become so overwhelmed with the numbers of young children in their care, that they were seeking funds to build a house to accommodate older, teenage victims. They needed $75,000. And so Constance reached out to her more than half-a-million followers, or “Queens” as she affectionately calls them.

(To read more of this article, please follow the link below…)


When Being The Change You Want To See In The World Feels Like A Drop In The Ocean , by Sarah Wilson #Wewelcomerefugees #Livebelowtheline

Sarah Wilson writes about two important areas: the refugee families who are flooding out of Syria (what risks would you take if you thought your children would be slaughtered otherwise?) and the “Live Below the Line” Poverty Challenge, which takes place this year on 21st September, to support those in our global family at home and abroad, who continue to live in poverty.

More investment needed to protect children from violence: Childfund circulates petition…


Childfund have begun circulating an online petition to raise awareness of global violence against children, particularly those living in poverty, and to encourage investment in and implementation of programmes aimed at reducing this violence.  A very worthy petition to read about and sign.

More investment needed to protect children from violence.

World Day Against Child Labour: 12th June: No to Child Labour, Yes to Quality Education!



The most recent global estimates suggest some 120 million children between the ages of 5 and 14 are involved in child labour, with boys and girls in this age group almost equally affected…  The World Day Against Child Labour this year will focus particularly on the importance of quality education as a key step in tackling child labour. It is very timely to do so, as in 2015 the international community will be reviewing reasons for the failure to reach development targets on education and will be setting new goals and strategies. [Source: http://www.ilo.org/ipec/Campaignandadvocacy/wdacl/lang–en/index.htm]


Every 12 June, Education International and its member organisations worldwide celebrate the World Day Against Child Labour.

It is an occasion to highlight the global extent of child labour and raise awareness on the situation of millions of children, girls and boys, working across the globe.

For EI and its affiliated teacher unions, World Day against Child Labour is also a good time to reiterate that every child has the right to a free quality public education.

On this year’s World Day Against Child Labour, Education International calls for:

  • education to be recognised as a public good, a fundamental human right and a basis for guaranteeing the realization of other rights and a key to achieving poverty eradication;
  • the provision of 12 years of publicly-funded, equitable quality primary and secondary education, of which at least nine years are free and compulsory, leading to relevant learning outcomes and ensuring that all children are in school and are learning;
  • the provision of at least one year of free and compulsory quality pre-primary education; and
  • teachers and educators to be empowered, adequately recruited, well-trained, professionally-qualified, motivated and supported within well-resourced, efficient and effectively governed systems.

Read more and see videos at the following link:



Is Education a Human Right? By Professor Ambassador Muhamed Sacirbey

Classroom(Originally Published in “The Huffington Post”.  Follow link below).

Editor’s Note:  Of course, here at “The Forever Years”, we believe that ALL children should have the opportunity to an education, particularly considering the enormous, positive difference that this makes! 🙂

Going beyond the rhetoric, should access to education be legally protected and addressed as a human right under international law? Education is increasingly highlighted as fundamental to the advancement of societies as well as essential to opportunity for individuals. Both the opportunity but also the right are too frequently unequal and arbitrarily secured. Girls have too often been shortchanged. Poverty and conflict frequently are obstacles as children barely in their teens are compelled to support hungry families or some are forced to become “child soldiers” or “comfort wives.” Malala Yousafzai, targeted by the Pakistani Taliban for assassination for promoting education for her generation of young men and women, stands out as a symbol for millions who are denied opportunity and access. What more can be done both in practice and definition by the United Nations and International Community?

Photo Credit: UNESCO

Photo Credit: UNESCO

(Read more at the following link…)


Trade of Innocents (Movie Review)

Trade of Innocents FY Collage

Trade of Innocents  is a 2012 movie from the United States.  After enduring the tragic loss of their own daughter and only child, an American couple go to live and work in Cambodia where they become involved with preventing the illegal sale and trafficking of young girls into the sex trade.  Personally, I found this film resonated with me in light of experiences I had and people I met during my time living in South East Asia.  Cambodia is one of many countries favoured by  pedophile tourists because of the vulnerability, due to poverty, of its children.  Cambodia’s tragic history, including the rule of the Khmer Rouge from 1975-1979, has created a “young population”, as many of the older generation were killed during the genocide.


The inspiration for Trade of Innocents came from a combination of the director (Christopher Bessette) and his trip to Phnom Penh (Cambodia’s capital), and a similar trip by the producers, Bill and Laurie Bolthouse. These three later came together to make the movie, which was filmed in Bangkok– supposedly because Cambodian authorities were not happy with the idea of filming the movie in their country.

Cambodia is far from being the only place where women and girls are treated as commodities. But in this country of 15 million people, the demand for virgins is big business that thrives due to cultural myth and other local factors. “Many Asian men, especially those over 50, believe sex with virgins gives them magical powers to stay young and ward off illness,” says Chhiv Kek Pung, president of Cambodia’s leading human rights organisation, Licadho. “There’s a steady supply of destitute families for the trade to prey on here, and the rule of law is very weak.”

The belief that sex with virgins increases male vigour has long held sway among powerful men in Asia, including Chairman Mao and North Korea’s Kim dynasty. “Unlike sex- tourist paedophiles who seek out children under 10 years old, local men don’t care so much about a virgin’s age – only her beauty and the fact she’s pure,” says Pung. Parents who sell their daughters’ virginity have little concept of child rights. “They regard their offspring as their property.”


Based on Licadho’s work inside communities, Pung estimates that “many thousands” of virgins aged between 13 and 18 are sold every year. As well as rich Cambodians, men from countries such as China, Singapore and Thailand are regular buyers, too. “They travel here on business and have everything prearranged by brokers: a five-star hotel, a few rounds of golf and a night or two with a virgin,” says Eric Meldrum, a former police detective from the UK who now works as an anti-exploitation consultant in Phnom Penh.  

(Source: http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/jul/06/virginity-for-sale-cambodia-sex-trade).

Child prostitutes to pedophile tourists are predominantly girls, although boy children are also involved. Child sex tourism is an internationally-recognized human rights problem, and it’s a growing one: UNICEF estimates that, around the world, about two million children are sexually exploited each year.


I believe this movie is important in raising awareness about the plight of child prostitutes and those trafficked, not only in Cambodia, but around the world.  Some critics believe the acting could be “stronger” and the film has been rated at two and a half stars or 5.3 out of ten, or thereabouts, in various reviews.  Personally, I feel these ratings are rather harsh. Trade of Innocents is a dramatic thriller and the pace and anticipation are kept going throughout.  The movie also does well in conveying a sense of the reality and layers of complexity which underlie the child prostitution industry.


One example of this is when Dermot Mulroney (who plays Alex, the American husband) is talking with Cambodian police officers and mentions that not all the young women trafficked into brothels are Khmer– some are from surrounding countries such as Thailand, Vietnam or Laos and have been taken from their own homes because it is harder for them to resist or escape when they are unable to speak the local language and have no legal status in Cambodia.  One young officer says, “I thought we were talking about our Khmer people?”.  The point the movie is trying to make, I believe, is that it is not about “helping one’s own people”, but about focusing on the problem and its far reaching effects on the young victims, regardless of their race, nationality or culture.  Police corruption is another complex layer, realistically depicted in the film.

728654_050One of the most chillingly realistic characters in the film is the American pedophile tourist played by Tom Billingsley, the man who says he would “prefer the seven year old.”  I personally felt my skin crawl seeing a scene in which he takes a phone call from his wife and passes on his “love” to his children– whilst in a restaurant with a young Cambodian girl he has “bought”.

Mira Sorvino (who plays Claire, the American wife) has had a longtime interest in supporting the cause of ending human trafficking and child prostitution. When asked about being in Trade of Innocents she said that “I felt it could be a powerful combination of my activist efforts and my artistic ventures.” (Source Wikipedia).  


The title Trade of Innocents for this film could also be Trade of Innocence– at times I have forgotten which one it is– perhaps that is a deliberate ploy (and a clever one) on the part of the movie’s creators.  Scenes of the two youngest Cambodian girls drawing pictures add weight to the title and to the fact that the theme of this movie is the destruction of the innocence of childhood/ forever years through exploitation and abuse.  “The Forever Years” blog highly recommends this film, it is informative and is certainly also a “must see” for anyone concerned about preventing child prostitution and trafficking.


Rating : PG-13 (for disturbing thematic material involving sex trafficking of children, and some violence)

View Trailer…

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See other stories on this blog:

“Mai and the Man” A short story.