São Paulo: “Human Trafficking Increases Six-Fold”

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16-year-old prostitute, Itatiba, Campinas, to TV Gazeta. “He” is allegedly a military policeman assigned to the area.

The department created a special unit to follow up on such crimes after they were written into the Penal Code in 2005. Before, only international trafficking in persons was recognized under national law, and the federal police was in charge of investigating it. Greater attention to the problem by São Paulo police is probably the principal explanation for the increase in [reported] victims. No children or adolescents figure in the DHPP’s statistics.

Cresce tráfico de pessoas para SP: Fabiana Leite of the Estado de S. Paulo, to her credit, more or less avoids making a very common leap of logic, in reporting today that “trafficking in persons” into São Paulo has “increased six-fold” in recent years.

You will often hear the argument that, because reported cases of such trafficking are on the rise, the incidence of such illegal practices must be on the rise.

The Estadão — along with other major news organizations — regularly commits this logical fallacy in its reporting on the incidence of “corruption” in Brazil, for example. See

Because federal corruption investigations are up since 2003 — when the current government took power — the incidence of corruption must have risen.

The federal police ran a little under 40 anticorruption investigations between 1994 and 2002. Since then, well over 400. But there are still plenty of people out there screaming that the incidence of corruption has increased since 2002.

This administration is ten times as corrupt as the last! The last guy stole millions; this guy is stealing billions!

Which is also why some sectors of the press insist on referring to the Brazilian feds as a “politicized Gestapo.” A sentiment echoed by Harvard Law professor Mangabeira “Minister of the Future” Unger in his infamous plagiarism of the Dreyfus j’accuse broadside in October 2005. But see:

Veja magazine ran an exposé in 2006 charging the head of the Brazilian feds with having an illegal offshore bank account. This charge turned out to be baseless — Veja screams “cover-up,” of course, but Veja is totally, systematically and irredeemably full of shit — and the man has now been appointed to head ABIN — the Tupi CIA.

Which if our own gringo CIA does not stop employing gabbling, off-the-reservation Moonies may give the Virginia suburbanites a run for their (my taxpayer) money one of these days. As a gringo taxpayer — paying a hell of a lot higher percentage of my income to the tax man than these Bush Rangers do too — I would personally rather see that enormous budget producing Osama bin Laden on a platter than getting mixed up in private commercial disputes between local pension funds and gringo investment banks.

On “incidence” and “perception,” and the Gallup Organization’s approach to the problem of how to study the relationship between the two in a meaningful way, see:

I am not the only one who thinks the Wolfowitz-sponsord “corruption perception index” — see also Wolfowitz Lied About Integrity Appointment — is an exercise in gabbling FUD, either:

Bear that in mind as we read more local newsflow on debt-enslaved hookers, paid in drugs:

SÃO PAULO – O cartaz em letras garrafais colado em um poste, que prometia casa, comida e até R$ 5 mil para trabalho em casa noturna de “bom nível”, foi o primeiro passo para a polícia de São Paulo iniciar há dois anos sua primeira investigação sobre o tráfico interno de seres humanos na capital. Por trás do anúncio, policiais do Departamento de Homicídios e Proteção à Pessoa (DHPP) afirmam ter encontrado um esquema de aliciamento, transporte e entrega de mulheres de outros Estados para a casa de “bom nível”, na verdade um bordel localizado na Avenida dos Bandeirantes, na zona sul. Pelo menos 16 mulheres foram vítimas do tráfico de pessoas, diz a polícia.

The block-lettered poster stuck to a telephone pole, promising lodging, food and up to R$5,000 a month from working in a “high class” night club was the first step for the São Paulo police in launching an investigation of internal trafficking of human beings in the state capital. Behind the advertisement, policemen from the Homicide and Personal Protection division (DHPP) say they found a scheme that recruited, transported and delivered women from other states to the “high-class” nightclub, which was in fact a bordello located on the Av. dos Bandeirantes in the southern district of the cirty. At least 16 women were victims of trafficking in persons, police say.

On the relative risk presented by narco and non-narco vice rackets, see also

Possibly one of the most pernicious myths about organized crime in Latin America, I think, is that there is a clear organizational and functional line to be drawn between the drug trade and “non-narco vice.”

De 2005 até hoje, o número de vítimas do crime que o cartaz escondia, o tráfico interno de seres humanos para prostituição, aumentou seis vezes, segundo estimativas do DHPP a partir de flagrantes. Atualmente, há casos em apuração com 117 vítimas e 7 indiciados – no ano passado, foram 30 vítimas; em 2005, 16. O departamento passou a ter um setor especializado para cuidar do crime, após sua inclusão no Código Penal, em 2005. Antes, só casos de tráfico internacional para prostituição eram acolhidos pela legislação nacional, e a investigação, direcionada à Polícia Federal. A atenção maior da polícia paulista é provavelmente a principal explicação para o aumento de vítimas. Nas estatísticas do DHPP, não há crianças nem adolescentes.

From 2005 to the present, the number of victims of the kind of crime behind this poster — domestic trafficking in human beings for prositution — increased six-fold, according to estimates by the DHPP, based an arrests in such cases. The current case load involves 117 victims and 7 persons indicted. Last year, it was 30 victims. In 2005, 16.

Come over to our house this evening. We will travel a few stops on the (very nice) subway line that serves our neighborhood. (It is something of a schlep up the hill to station, I warn you.)

I will give you a squirt-gun full of dye, blindfold you, and stand you on a certain corner near the Av. Paulista.

You will fire the dye from the “supersoaker” at random in a circular radius. Among the persons struck by the dye, more or less randomly distributed, I bet you will discover more persons in this category than cases followed up on in 2005.

The department created a special unit to follow up on such crimes after they were written into the Penal Code in 2005. Before, only international trafficking in persons was recognized under national law, and the federal police was in charge of investigating it. Greater attention to the problem by São Paulo police is probably the principal explanation for the increase in [reported] victims. No children or adolescents figure in the DHPP’s statistics.

O departamento também investiga a situação de estrangeiros trazidos ao País de forma ilegal para trabalhar em condições análogas à escravidão, outra forma de tráfico de pessoas. São bolivianos e em menor número paraguaios, todos encontrados seguidamente em oficinas de costura insalubres do centro. Já são 27 vítimas neste ano, segundo o DHPP. Os números do departamento são estimados porque alguns casos ainda não tiveram as investigações concluídas – podem existir mais vítimas. Mas são importantes para acompanhamento já que o Brasil e o mundo carecem de estatísticas de fonte direta sobre o crime. A própria ONU reconhece a imprecisão dos dados.

The department is also looking into the situation of foreigners brought into Brazil illegally to work in conditions analogous to slavery, another form of trafficking in persons. They are mainly Bolivians, and a smaller number of Paraguayans, all discovered working together in substandard conditions in downtown sewing centers. The DHPP reports some 27 victims of this crime so far this year. Its numbers are estimates, because some cases are still under investigation, and more victims may be found. But these are important figures to follow up on, because Brazil, like the rest of the world, lack statistics from primary sources on this crime. Even the United Nations acknowledges that its data are inexact.

Which is itself something of an inexact statement.

What report from what UN agency says exactly what about the accuracy and margin of error for estimates of the extent of the problem of child labor in Brazil?

Which as I am googling around turns out to be some 7 million children.

According to UNICEF, there are an estimated 218 million children aged 5 to 17 in child labor worldwide, excluding child domestic labor. The most controversial forms of work include the military use of children as well as child prostitution. Less controversial, and often legal with some restrictions, are work as child actors and child singers, as well as agricultural work outside of the school year (seasonal work).

The Showtime cable channel in the U.S. ran a 10-part series on the problem, featuring actress Susan Sarandon “interacting with child laborers in Brazil.”

Currently [no dateline or timestamp on the UN Web site indicating the publication date of this press release, however — Ed.] airing on Showtime Networks in the United States, and later with other broadcasters worldwide, What’s Going On? explores critical global issues such as war, environmental degradation, discrimination and poverty through the eyes of a child. The goal is to explain the origins of a problem, put a human face on an issue and promote a message of tolerance and understanding.

I actually think zero-tolerance might be a more useful policy to adopt.

And putting a human face on the people who exploit child labor.

The next time Brasil Urgente does a special report on prostitution, for example?

Don’t black out the license plate of customers shown getting blown in their high-end SUVs for the price of a pipeful of crack.

Developed in partnership with the Emmy award-winning producer, RCN Entertainment, What’s Going On? is there on the ground, meeting real kids, in real places and telling their stories. Whether they live in Sierra Leone, Brazil or India, the series shows the shared experiences of children.

I suspect — it is hard to know, from reading the local papers — that some of this may have to do with the current governor’s shuttle diplomacy with international lenders.

I tend to challenge myself to systematically try to think well of Mr. Serra — who, as I recall, pressed to retain the previous governor’s public security team, politely and firmly declined, naming his own people.

This is partly as an exercise in devil’s advocacy — his political adversaries tend to demonize him as “just the same as” the previous governor, but I see credible reasons to think he has other intentions, and sincerely means to accomplish them — and partly because it just seems stupid to hope that the guy will fall flat on his face on such issues, just because that might give him something positive to put on his political resume with an eye toward the 2010 elections.

I do not vote here (I do pay some taxes).

But I do live here, and nourish myself from the local feira (maracujá, R$3 per kilo).

So while I think I should stay out of local political warfare — if only because it would be dishonest of me to claim that I comprehend it (does anyone?) — I do at least think it is in-bounds to speak well of anyone who makes measurable progress toward ameliorating some of the astonishing stuff I see with my own eyes while wandering around this city.

Things that just make my eyes bug out. Holy. Freaking. Jebus.

Illiterate, debt-enslaved teenage crack whores?

I am telling you: This is not just something I am blogging off the TV from my Harvard dorm room, Jim. This is live from what we like to think (hope) is something like the Amber Zone of Latin America’s largest urban agglomeration.

And the Red Zone is just over the rise there. Even in Lapa and the Alto do Pinheiros, you can hear the fireworks popping when the latest shipment of marching powder arrives.


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