The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION
Warnings against paying for sex with children to air on London-Brazil flights around World Cup
LONDON - Videos warning soccer fans against paying for sex with children at the World Cup will be played on Brazil-bound flights from England.
"Please help to protect our kids," Brazil defender David Luiz says in the film to air in June and July on British Airways.
Fearing an influx of fans will fuel the illicit child sex market in Brazil, the "It's a Penalty" campaign will alert fans about the legal consequences of paying underage prostitutes. The warning messages also are set to be played on stadium big screens at England's games in Brazil.
"This campaign is an important one to raise awareness for something abhorrent that still occurs," England coach Roy Hodgson said.
Britain's National Crime Agency is supporting the charities-led campaign, which highlights how the impoverished Brazilian children might have had their appearances manipulated to look older by criminal gangs seeking to profit from them.
"Do not make the mistake of thinking that because they approach you this must mean they are consenting and that you are not responsible," Johnny Gwynne, director of the NCA's child protection division, says in a warning to fans. "They are children, and they are being threatened and intimidated by unscrupulous people to make money. The law will not care whether you knew the person you had sex with was underage."
Those paying for sex with children aged 17 or under could be lining the pockets of organized criminals who are exploiting Brazilians, and fans are at risk of prosecution back in England, Gwynne said.
"If there are circumstances where the Brazilian police can't pursue a matter, we can pursue against individuals back here under U.K. law," Gwynne said in an interview. "You might think you can do something in Brazil, get away with it and come back to the U.K. but you can still be put before a United Kingdom court."
The campaign is run by three charities: Happy Child International, the Jubilee Campaign and the A21 Campaign."
"If we stand together against this horrible crime, hundreds of children's lives will be saved from the catastrophic effect of sexual exploitation," Happy Child International chief executive Sarah de Carvalho said.
Rob Harris can be followed at www.twitter.com/RobHarris
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