Monday, June 30, 2008

Hip Hop Helps Counter Human Trafficking in Brazil


Take music and DJs, breakdancing, graffiti, rhythms and poetry. Swirl it around. The result is hip-hop, which has recently become a tool to fight human trafficking in Brazil. The new video clip "Don't Traffic," by a hip hop group from the outskirts of the capital Brasilia, is reaching youngsters with simple and effective language. "The message uses their own language, including slang," said 25-year-old group member Allison Costa. "These lyrics stick."

The hip hop group was originally contacted by Aldair Brasil, head of the Federal District's Committee to Fight Human trafficking, a permanent form of governmental and non-governmental representatives, including schoolteachers, community leaders, and even firemen. "We asked them to prepare a video clip for youngsters, particularly in vulnerable areas," Brasil says. "we thought it would be much more effective than any seminar or school class. Now we need to spread it throughout the country."

"Don't Traffic" is a low-budget film set in the outskirts of Brasilia and in its central area, close important governmental buildings. According to hip hop artist Costa, this is one way to put pressure on politicians to pass legislation, protect human rights and prosecute criminals.

The film also has a preventative message. It begins with a child, searching for his mother who left home and never returned. "We wanted to tell youngsters, particularly women, that propositions to become a model or to get a better life in other Brazilian cities or abroad may actually be a nightmare in disguise." Costa explains.

The Federal District's Committee to Fight Human Trafficking has been monitoring cases in the region. The majority of cases have involved girls between 12 and 17 years old. In almost every case, the process begins with a family member or close friend. "Traffickers lure victims by giving the family money, paying bills and basic food staples," Brasil explains. "These people also make fake identification cards, prepare model portfolios, everything to stimulate that the victim is heading for real work and, most importantly, an overall life upgrade."

Judging from the cases monitored by the Committee, most victims are trafficked to other cities in Brazil or to other countries, especially Spain, Portugal, Switzerland and the United States. Although girls from Brazil's poorer regions, like the Northeast, also end up being trafficked to the Federal District.

In 2006, the Committee was recognized as a public utility organization. This recognition has helped in building a network with governmental agencies to urge them to include human trafficking in their programmes, provide improved assistance and protection of victims and conduct proper investigation and prosecution of criminal organisations.

In 2008, the government instituted a National Plan to Counter Human Trafficking, which involved governmental, non-governmental and international organizations, including UNODC. The plan is based on prevention, prosecution and protection of victims.


  1. Well, Buffalo all I can say is keep up the good work. I will post it on and the north eat Brasil site

    best of luck with the cause.

  2. I love that people are using their talents to make a difference on this issue. Here are some guys who are climbing a mountain to help fight human trafficking...

  3. The current government plan to combat trafficking seems more geared to setting up ethnic profiling of women going overseas and harassing these women if they are of African descent and "look poor".

    Brazil exports many prostitutes for work overseas. Very few of these women can be defined as trafficking victims according to the Palermo Protocol as they travel by their own free will, often on their own dime, and their human rights are not violated.

    The research upon which the government's anti-trafficking program is based - PESTRAF - is deeply flawed and basically presumes that every prostitute who goes to work overseas is ipso facto a trafficking victim, independent of human rights concerns.

    If the anti-trafficking movement wants to be taken seriously as anything other than a white European and politically correct way of emplacing further immigration filters directed against women of color, then it's going to have to stop confusing sex workers with trafficking victims.