Youth lead the fight around sexual exploitation of children in Brazil

Seventeen-year-old Rayane is a force to be reckoned with in her native Brazil. That’s because she is part of Plan International’s Tourism and Protection of Childhood Project, which has been developing ways to prevent sexual exploitation, by contributing to public policies and ensuring children are aware of their rights.

The project is now more pertinent than ever as Brazil gears up to host the 2014 FIFA World Cup.Rayane has been taking her role seriously, visiting schools and cities outside her hometown of Pernambuco to educate young students about their rights, as well as encouraging them to stand up and say “no” to commercial sexual tourism and other forms of abuse and violation.

For Rayane, her age is her power and she firmly believes she has the ability to make moves when it comes to changing the reality of children and teenagers in Brazil, who are victims of sexual abuse and exploitation. She certainly has the determination, as Rayane is always encouraging her colleagues not to give up.

Rayane has heard many stories of children who have suffered at the hands of domestic violence and it is these stories that have encouraged her to stand her ground and fight for this cause.

“It is sad to see teenagers or young people who have stopped living his or her life due to sexual exploitation, domestic violence or drugs,” says the Rayne. “Young peoples’ dreams are ours too. When their dreams are interrupted, ours are too.”

Even though Rayne has been faced with barriers, the young campaigner has vowed not to give up.

“There are many challenges, but the desire to fight and make people understand this problem is worth it,” she says. “If we hold our hands we can change our city, our state and, who knows, in the future, we will have children, teenagers and youngster with a brand new face and a better future.”