Brazilian program helps get girls out of prostitution
August 27, 1996
Web posted at: 7:15 p.m. EDT (2315 GMT)
Editor's note: The first World Congress Against Commercial
Sexual Exploitation of Children convened Tuesday in Sweden.
Correspondent Marina Mirabella examined an effort to stop
child prostitution in one Brazilian city.
SANTOS, Brazil (CNN) -- Every day, social workers scour the
streets of this port town, offering advice and counseling to
desperate girls such as Maria Angelica.
The 12-year-old ran away from home two weeks ago.
"I left because my mother beat me, and I'm not going back.
I'll find some way to survive on my own," she says.
Poverty and abuse force hundreds of girls such as Maria
Angelica onto the streets of Santos, the biggest port city in
"This city draws lots of sailors who have been at sea a long
time, and many of these girls turn to prostitution," said
Santos Mayor David Capistrano Filho.
They can earn $50 each time they have sex, according to
social worker Patricia Goncalves.
So many girls are either involved in prostitution or at risk
of falling into it that the city started a special program
three years ago aimed at getting them off the streets.
Girls are tutored to learn how to read and write, and taught
skills such as hairdressing, which they can use to find jobs.
Fourteen-year-old Andrea says she'll never again sell herself for
money, or anything else. Andrea has learned how to give
manicures, and hopes to find work in a salon.
"I've had sex with strangers in order to get food, clothing
and money," Andrea recalls. "It was the only thing I knew how
Almost 300 girls have come through the program. Most are now
either back in school or working at jobs using the skills
they have learned.
The main goal is to build the girls' self-confidence and to
give them options, according to the program's coordinator.
In a country with an estimated half-million young
prostitutes, Santos' success has drawn national attention.
Other Brazilian cities are looking to try similar programs.
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