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

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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…)

http://fightthenewdrug.org/the-road-near-rios-olympic-village-where-9-year-old-girls-are-being-sold-for-sex-photos/

Youth Homelessness Matters Day (April 13th) in Australia… shouldn’t this be observed globally? By Kirsteen McLay-Knopp

YHMD

Youth Homelessness Matters Day held every April 13th, is the annual national awareness day for youth homelessness in Australia.  It’s a day of learning and understanding. Youth Homelessness Matters Day (YHMD) has been an exciting campaign since its inception in 1990.  Started by a group of social advocates who believed that too many young people were moving out of home with no where to go, the day has since grown into a national celebration of young people’s resilience.

Jasmine's journey

Youth homelessness is something that affects most people, whether it’s a parent who lets their child’s friend crash on the couch for a couple of nights, or an Aunty who hears of her nephew being kicked out. Yet many people don’t know the full extent of the impact this issue has on our young people or what to do to help.    While “Youth Refuges” and special youth accommodation have been set up to address the problem, there are often not enough places available in these, which can lead to a teen or young person being forced to move away from their home town.   Others feel afraid of getting in with a “bad crowd” and end up homeless rather than entering accommodation situations which could be extremely negative.

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Young people in New south Wales, Australia, supporting “Youth Homelessness Matters Day”

This campaign aims to address these problems. We’ll probably never live in a society where no young person has to leave home early (although that would be nice) and we are aware of the fact that family breakdown is sometimes inevitable. However, young people should not have to face homelessness and discrimination when their home life doesn’t work out. They shouldn’t be faced with a life of disadvantage, just because they were dealt a bad hand and born to imperfect parents or a broken family.  Youth Homelessness Matters Day aims to raise awareness, in hopes of  creating brighter futures for young people who have faced homelessness.   Hopes are that they will, through being empowered and given opportunities, believe that they can become whatever they put their minds to… and become it!

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We at The Forever Years commend Australia for acknowledging this problem, celebrating the resilience of youth and young people and creating this important day.  Youth Homelessness exists world wide… wouldn’t be great if this day became recognised on an international level, spreading global awareness of this important issue?

 

 

For further information follow the links below:

https://www.facebook.com/yhmday/info?tab=page_info

http://www.youthhomelessnessmatters.net/yhmd/welcome-nych

When You Realize That You Are Living Life in a Bubble, by Sarah Wilson

Read about how Hagar International transforms the lives of children rescued from trafficking.

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Like me, do you ever feel as if you live life in a bubble? Living in a bubble is perhaps defined as living safely in the confines of our comfort zone, with all the trappings of modern affluence. Recently I’ve wondered why is it that when bloggers blog about issues of poverty, trafficking or injustice, there is little interest. And I’ve come to the conclusion that it is because we are often overwhelmed with our own lives, and it’s simply too much to hear of the atrocities that are going on in the world. It’s not that we don’t care, it’s that we care too deeply and we simply can’t cope with the realities of the world’s brokenness.

But I’ve been challenged recently about living life in a bubble. And ignoring the snow forecasts, last night I ventured out into the cold, to hear an inspiring speaker. Sue is a…

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‘Noble’ – A Film Review

By Sarah Wilson

Noble Film Review

Many years ago I read an inspiring book called ‘Bridge Across My Sorrows’ by Christina Noble. It documented the astonishing life of this feisty and fearless Irish heroine who survived and overcame a traumatic and brutal childhood in Ireland, to become a champion for children’s rights in Vietnam. When I saw that the life of Christina Noble had been made into a film, I jumped at the chance to go and see it. I went to see this film last night with my friend Kirsteen McLay, editor-in-chief of The Forever Years Blog. She worked in Vietnam for many years and once had a long conversation with Christina Noble over the telephone and she also met her son.

The film Noble’ was a difficult yet inspiring and hopeful watch. It documents her life from poverty stricken Dublin in the 1950’s to Birmingham in the 1960’s and Ho Chi Min City in…

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