Brazil celebrates its Independence Day today.
It would be fun to share some of our favorite Brazilian recipes and traditions. If you would rather that right now, feel free to head on over to a yummy cheese bread recipe. It’s a little taste of Brazil. And a lot less “heavy” than what’s on my heart on a day like today.
There is a disturbing reality that we cannot ignore.
Thousands, possibly millions of children have never tasted a Brazilian Independence Day.
Today is like any other, as they are bound by the chains of prostitution, drug addiction and poverty. Instead of having freedom to build sandcastles, play futebol or grill churrasco, they answer to the demands of perverse, often brutal strangers to satisfy their fantasies.
Part of me envies my ignorant days. When we could celebrate with our yellow and green, sip on Brazilian limonada and stuff our faces with pão de queijo, unaware. When I thought being a little girl was about playing Strawberry Shortcake and dollhouses. When I checked on my peacefully-sleeping boys and didn’t realize so many moms don’t have this luxury.
But now we know. And we cannot turn our backs.
Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed.
Defend the cause of orphans. Fight for the rights of widows.
What in the world is going on?
Unicef estimates 250,000 children in Brazil have been forced into prostitution.
Some estimate the number could be up to 2 million child prostitutes in Brazil.
Children. As in, 17 and younger (many of them 10-13 years old). Children. As in, they should be at school learning to read or at home playing Legos. Children. As in, they need a parent who would shelter them from the oppression that preys on them. Children. As in, they are so valuable and vulnerable that Jesus says it would be better for you to be thrown into the sea with a millstone hung around your neck than to cause one of these little ones to fall into sin. (Luke 17.2)
BBC World reports Thailand has been the world leader up until now, but “Brazil is overtaking Thailand as the world’s most popular sex-tourist destination. Brazil at the moment is on a high trend of child sex tourism and is all geared to take up the first spot beating out Thailand.”
With the 2014 World Cup and Olympics in Brazil, this problem continues to spiral out of control. More tourism=More child exploitation.
This video shares the shocking reality:
“It’s very easy to buy a girl in Brazil. It’s like buying chocolate.”
How in the world did this happen?
“Child sex tourism is tourism for the purpose of engaging in the prostitution of children, that is commercially facilitated child sexual abuse. The children who perform as prostitutes in the child sex tourism trade often have been lured or abducted into sexual slavery.”
“Pimps get children high on crack, then offer the children’s tiny bodies to the men for a few dollars.”
One BBC World reporter wrote: Taxi drivers work with the girls who are too young to get into the bars. One offers me two for the price of one and a lift to a local motel. “They are underage, so much cheaper than the older ones,” he explains as he introduces me to Sara and Maria. One clings to a bright pink Barbie bag, and they hold each other’s hands looking terrified at the possibility of potential customer.”
This breaks my heart and makes my stomach churn.
How did a fingerprint of God end up becoming a bartering object?
How do we even wrap our minds around this issue?
And how can we ever begin to make a difference?
Where in the world do we go from here?
Awareness is a start. We must begin to unwind the binds that our silence has held on these precious souls. More than simply talking to each other, we must bring these concerns before our Almighty Creator, the Author of Life. The One who sees and knows and hears.
Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne;
love and faithfulness go before You.
Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim You,
who walk in the light of Your presence. (Psalm 89.14-15)
Nothing is beyond the Lord’s reach, not even the long arm of oppression. I believe when we want to take part in the very thing that is central to His character: righteousness and justice, He hears. And He will reveal how we are to be involved.
International Justice Mission and Destiny Rescue are among the organizations that are making a huge impact in the lives of the enslaved. They work to rescue the captured and prosecute the offenders. We admire and applaud their work around the world. However, neither of them are currently in Brazil.
Compassion International is in the fight against child sex trafficking for the long haul. They are reaching into the poor communities in Brazil, providing a place for the children to come to avoid the streets. Sponsoring a child provides holistic education in hopes of breaking the vicious cycle poverty creates.
The need seems overwhelming. Seems easier to go back to passing around the pão de queijo, unaware or unaffected. But if it were our child, could we rest until they were found and freed?
Evil can be undone, but it cannot ‘develop’ into good. Time does not heal it.
The spell must be unwound, bit by bit.
Whatever we feel led to do may seem insignificant. But, it is something!!
I picture it like a Lite Brite. Remember poking those plastic pegs into that brand new sheet of black paper for the light to shine through? The more we poke into the canvas of darkness, the more light we allow to escape.
Bit by bit, we can each do our part in loosening the binds of oppression on these children.
Let’s join together in asking God how we may help make a difference in someone’s tomorrow. That next year, more may have the chance to taste a Brazilian Independence Day!