(29 Aug 1996) Eng/Portu/Nat

As international child abuse experts meet in Sweden, a Brazilian non-governmental organisation is hitting the streets of Rio de Janeiro to help runaway children.

Brazil has one of the biggest number of street children in the region and many of them end up selling their bodies to survive.

A group- known as the Sao Martinho House- takes care of 18-hundred children providing shelter, food and counselling.

Rio de Janeiro is famous for its beautiful beaches.

But at night, the strip turns into a red light district.

Women hang out at 5-star hotels waiting for tourists to roll out the cash.

However, not all tricks are turned for money, nor are all women making a living in the world’s oldest profession.

Many are young girls simply trying to survive in the streets.

SOUNDBITE: (Portuguese)
The streets…In the streets you need to know how to live because the streets are very tough and difficult to live in, because if you’re not smart, you don’t survive. Because there are lots of guys out there, that if you don’t do anything with them they want to beat you, abuse you, leave you with a mark or even kill you.
SUPER CAPTION: Priscilla, street girl

Priscilla is 13 years old and she ran away from home and an abusive stepfather- a common case for many street children.

SOUNDBITE: (English)
The problem is not focused only on the child but it’s born in the family situation. A lot of these girls are running to the streets because adult men are abusing them sexually in the house. And a lot of times this is the stepfather, because in the poor families in Brazil we have a big problem. The men leave the family for economical reasons or others, and when the mother falls in love with another man he doesn’t respect a lot the children. So easily, when he’s drunk or something, he tries to abuse the children.
SUPER CAPTION: Jan Daniels, International Coordinator for Sao Martinho House

Daniels- who’s from Belgium- works at the Sao Martinho house in Rio de Janeiro.

Sao Martinho is an N-G-O which houses street children.

He says most street children- especially the girls- are easy prey for pimps and corrupt police officers who they claim force them to have sex in exchange for food, protection and even drugs.

SOUNDBITE: (Portuguese)
The police are also immoral, indecent. They come on to us. A lot of them come on to us they come and talk to us. The P-M (military police) offer us drugs. They offer Marijuana so we go out with them. The other day a P-M offered us…he wanted that we smoke.
SUPER CAPTION: Joyce, street girl

Priscilla and Joyce together with 18-hundred street children come to Sao Martinho for shelter, food and moral support.

But most of all to run away from street violence.

SOUNDBITE: (English)
First of all, the first step is kind of rescue programme because when they are at that stage of being victim of a lot of violence we have to cure them. The first step is this. They can use a lot of services, we have health care posts, we have good food, we have attractive activities and at least they find some protection in the building of Sao Martinho and a good relationship with educators. And then they start to gain some essential self-respect. Then they start to question how they can better in life. And then we offer a second step, opportunities to get out of the streets, definitely.
SUPER CAPTION: Jan Daniels, International Coordinator for Sao Martinho House

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