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Day Against Sexual Exploitation and Trafficking of Women and Children

September 23 was declared the International Day Against Sexual Exploitation and Trafficking of Women and Children in 1999. It was inspired by the enactment of the “Palacios Law,” passed 95 years ago in Argentina to punish those promoting or facilitating the sexual exploitation and abuse of minors. 

Since then, this day has been used to draw attention to the problems of sexual exploitation and human trafficking, as well as to promote awareness raising aimed at preventing and ending these human rights violations.  

According to a 2021 report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), around 2.5 million people are victims of human trafficking every year and 83% of cases are linked to the crime of sexual exploitation. According to the UN, these criminal practices generate more than US$30 billion per year. In Brazil, the majority of victims come from certain states, including Goiás, Minas Gerais, Pernambuco, Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. Worldwide, countries in Southeast Asia, Central America and Africa account for the most people trafficked. 


What is sexual exploitation and trafficking of women and children? 

This involves the recruitment, transportation, transfer or accommodation of people for the purposes of sexual exploitation or forced labor, carried out in a deceptive, coercive, abusive and controlling manner. 

The great difficulty in efforts to combat trafficking lies in identifying these situations, as it is often an invisible practice. This is largely due to the lack of sharing and dissemination of information on the subject. 

The aforementioned UN report concluded that the main risk factor for this phenomenon is economic vulnerability. Poor financial conditions and a lack of job prospects lead victims to accept degrading offers, which give rise to exploitative or even slave-like situations. However, it is often the only way to survive envisioned by victims. 

Child sexual exploitation means the use of children and adolescents for sexual purposes, mediated by money, food, valuables or other objects of exchange. This situation is a violation of human rights. 

It should be noted that the COVID-19 pandemic and the use of technological devices as a grooming tool are factors that have aggravated the situation in recent years. 

The economic impact of the pandemic increased the incidence of trafficking and exploitation. During this period, the income challenge was compounded by inspection difficulties, which ended up exposing victims to greater exploitation.  

The growing use of technological resources such as the internet and smartphone apps has significantly changed the way victims are approached. This allows less risk for exploiters, as it is possible to exercise control from a distance. 


Vale holds event to raise awareness about preventing and combating the sexual exploitation of children and adolescents 

To raise awareness among our suppliers about this critical issue, in-person meetings on Preventing and Tackling the Sexual Exploitation of Children and Adolescents were held on September 19 and 21 in Belo Horizonte (Minas Gerais) and São Luis (Maranhão), through a partnership between Vale’s Human Rights and Procurement areas, the Federal Highway Police, Childhood Brasil, Vale Minas Gerais Cultural Museum and the Vale Maranhão Cultural Center. The aim was to promote debate with our supply chain, especially transportation companies and construction groups. The participating organizations shared best practices on how to combat this crime. 

At Vale, the human rights management of suppliers looks very closely at this critical issue, especially in the surroundings of Vale’s operations, including the accommodation arrangements of Vale employees and contractors. 

In addition, all critical operations and projects undergo human rights due diligence, which also assesses impacts related to this critical issue. We carry out permanent initiatives to raise awareness about this subject among our employees and we encourage them to report any perceptions or suspicions of violations of the rights of children and adolescents. 

The sexual exploitation of children and adolescents is a crime. It is never the victim’s fault. Report it.  

If you suspect this crime is happening, call 100.  

If you witness violence against a child or adolescent, call the Military Police on 190 or the Federal Highway Police on 191. 

If you identify a case of online violence involving a child or adolescent, report it to SaferNet at 

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