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Last Updated: Friday, 9 July, 2004, 02:27 GMT 03:27 UK
Brazil acts on child prostitution
By Steve Kingstone
BBC News, Sao Paulo

Brazil's parliament has paved the way for a nationwide investigation into child prostitution.

On Thursday evening, Congress approved a report recommending that more than 200 people be investigated for crimes against children and adolescents.

Those under suspicion include senior public figures, among them politicians, judges, business leaders and priests.

It is thought that up to half a million children in Brazil could be involved in prostitution.

The evidence was compiled over the course of a year by a committee of law-makers.

Late on Thursday, the committee's findings were approved by Brazil's parliament.

The allegations will now be passed on to prosecutors across the country.

It is a high-profile attempt to overcome what the United Nations has called the pervasive sense of impunity surrounding child sex cases in this country.

What will also follow from the report are changes to Brazil's often archaic laws.

At present for example, if a girl or young woman makes an allegation of rape and subsequently gets married, the rape investigation is automatically dropped.

That law may now be repealed.

Another recommendation is that allegations of abuse against boys are given the same legal footing as cases where the victims are girls.


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