By Paula Buzzi
Impunity Watch Reporter, South America
BRASILIA, Brazil — Amnesty International and human rights activists around the world are showing outrage at a Superior Court of Justice’s decision this week, which ruled that sex with a 12-year-old does not necessarily constitute statutory rape. The head of Amnesty International’s Brazil branch, Atila Roque, is concerned that this ruling will serve as a green light to rapists and discourage victims of sexual abuse from reporting their abusers.
A Brazilian law, adopted in 2009, forbids sex with anyone under the age of 14. This week, however, Brazil’s Superior Court of Justice did not convict a man accused of having sex with three 12-year-olds because, among other things, the girls had previously worked as prostitutes and the incident occurred in 2002. Amnesty International said in a statement that “It is of extreme concern that the protections provided by Brazil’s legislation in cases such as these have not been implemented.”
Brazil’s human rights minister, Maria do Rosario Nunes, believes the court’s ruling “would in practice spell impunity” and has pledged to try to get the case overturned. Tourism Minister, Gastao Vieira, agrees, and stated on Tuesday that “the exploitation of sex is a crime and those responsible for it must be punished.”
According to the court’s president, Ari Pargendler, the court is open to revisit the decision.
Underaged prostitution has drawn many tourists to Brazil over recent years. Brazil’s Tourism Ministry stated on Tuesday that over 2,000 websites have been found, many of them hosted in the United States, promoting Brazil as the “sex tourism” destination in 2011. The websites show pictures of women in sensual poses and encourages sexual encounters with minors.
Taking down and reporting these websites is going to be one of the many steps the Brazilian government will take to combat the sexual exploitation of underaged girls during the 2014 World Cup. Last year, members of the Brazilian government distributed posters and sponsored advertisements across the country containing warnings that the sexual exploitation of minors is considered a crime. The posters were also distributed to the United States, Germany, Italy, France, the Netherlands and Spain.
For further information, please see:
ABC News – Brazil: Critics Slam Court’s Underage Sex Verdict – 30 March 2011
The Global Post – Human Rights Group Outraged At Brazil’s Underage Sex Ruling – 30 March 2012
The Washington Post – Critics Slam Brazilian Appeals Court’s Lenient Verdict in Sex With Minors Case – 30 March 2012
Associated Press – Brazil Takes on Websites That Promote Sex Tourism – 27 March 2012