Police Crack Down on Teen-age Prostitution Clubs in Northern Brazil
SAO PAULO, Brazil (AP) _ Police said Thursday they were cracking down on the owners of seedy bars and nightclubs who lure teen-age girls to the gold mining regions of Brazil’s northern jungle, then force them into prostitution.
Federal police spokesman Joao Martins said several nightclub owners have been arrested and many of the girls had been returned home by state and federal police.
The crackdown followed a series of articles in the Folha de Sao Paulo newspaper that said hundreds of poor girls, many as young as 13, have been lured from their homes with promises of well-paying jobs in shops and restaurants.
When they arrive at villages near the mines, they are taken to nightclubs and forced into a vicious cycle of near-slavery; forced to prostitute themselves to pay for room and board, transportation, medicine and their clothes and perfume, the newspaper reported.
It said the girls are often beaten, tortured and sometimes killed if they try to escape.
Folha de Sao Paulo reporter Gilberto Dimenstein said a typical mining village, Cuiu-Cuiu, had two streets, 32 nightclubs and a population of 522 that included 65 young prostitutes who ″entertained″ more than 3,000 gold miners.
Cuiu-Cuiu lies 560 miles west of Belem, the capital of Para state.
Police Inspector Alcir Conde in Itaituba, 155 miles from Cuiu-Cuiu, was quoted as saying: ″We know there is slavery in Cuiu-Cuiu but what can we do? We don’t have enough money to fly there.″
Said Judge Amilcar Guimaraes, who has jurisdiction in the area: ″Capitalism is also slavery. What is the difference between one of those girls in Cuiu-Cuiu and a factory worker?″
Antonio Rodriques, the owner of a Cuiu-Cuiu nightclub, was quoted as denying he mistreated the girls.
″They all knew they were going to work as prostitutes,″ he said. ″I treat them as if they were my own daughters.″
Rodrigues was arrested a week after his comments were published.
There were also reports of prostitution in gold mining areas of the western state of Rondonia.
Many girls become addicted to cocaine and are forced to become prostitutes to pay for drugs, the newspaper said. They are also used as drug runners.
″Prostitution and drug trafficking are all part of the same cruel game,″ Luiz Claudio Azambuja a Rondonia police official, told the paper.