Where Girls Are Raffled

It is the most sickening case of child sexual exploitation we have come across so far.

Last week a Meninadança team visited Cândido Sales, southern Bahia state, where we hope to soon begin a new work reaching out to hundreds of vulnerable and unprotected young girls.

The remote town of 26,000 people is literally cut in half by the BR-116, and because of its location - close to a state border and near the intersection with another major highway - the road is always congested with trucks and HGVs.

Bars and brothels line the slow-moving motorway, often just metres away from dirt-brick homes where families live in abject poverty - and young daughters are often seen as a source of income.

We already knew that Cândido Sales is a target for sex trafficking gangs, who regularly take young girls away from the town - often never to return.

And, because of the experiences of some of our girls in Medina, fifty miles south, we knew that child prostitution there is organised and dangerous, with pimps who ensnare vulnerable youngsters, and hidden underage brothels disguised as ordinary homes.

But last week we discovered a fact even more horrifying - that underage girls in the town are regularly offered to men as prizes in raffles.

Gleyce Farias, a psychologist at Cândido Sales' town council, told us how the numbered tickets are put up for sale - often for as little as £5 (USD 8) - before one is drawn at random, with the holder winning the right to abuse the particular girl being sold.

Gleyce, who receives cases of child sexual abuse, said: "Every day we hear of another girl who has been sold. Cândido Sales is a small town, but we are being overwhelmed by this problem. Every day, more girls are falling into the trap of prostitution.

"Recently I had to stop a mother from allowing her 12-year-old daughter to "marry" a 60-year-old man, for money of course.

"Another 13-year-old girl ended up in hospital because of the abuses she suffered. She told us how from the age of nine she was made to watch pornographic films, and men would pay her to touch them."

She added: "One girl told me, 'I keep crying out for help, but nobody ever comes to save me.'"

Our greatest desire is to be able to bring hope, healing and justice to the girls of Cândido Sales. The only thing stopping us is the lack of funds to cover our monthly running costs.

You could be the response to the cries of countless young girls in this town. Could you give £10, £20 or perhaps £50 monthly?

If you want to join us on a new journey, as we start a new Pink House in Cândido Sales, please reply to this email, or write to us at: Thank you.

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