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The Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children

In the early years of the 21st Century, 2000 to 2025                    

Portuguese Republic (Portugal)

Portugal has become a diversified and increasingly service-based economy since joining the European Community in 1986.

GDP per capita stands at roughly two-thirds of the EU-27 average. A poor educational system, in particular, has been an obstacle to greater productivity and growth.  [The World Factbook, U.S.C.I.A. 2009]

Description: Portugal

CAUTION:  The following links and accompanying text have been culled from the web to illuminate the situation in Portugal.  Some of these links may lead to websites that present allegations that are unsubstantiated, misleading or even false.   No attempt has been made to validate their authenticity or to verify their content.



If you are looking for material to use in a term-paper, you are advised to scan the postings on this page and others to see which aspects of child prostitution are of particular interest to you.  You might be interested in exploring how children got started, how they survive, and how some succeed in leaving.  Perhaps your paper could focus on runaways and the abuse that led to their leaving.  Other factors of interest might be poverty, rejection, drug dependence, coercion, violence, addiction, hunger, neglect, etc.  On the other hand, you might choose to write about the manipulative and dangerous adults who control this activity.  There is a lot to the subject of Child Prostitution.  Scan other countries as well as this one.  Draw comparisons between activity in adjacent countries and/or regions.  Meanwhile, check out some of the Term-Paper resources that are available on-line.


Check out some of the Resources for Teachers attached to this website.

HELP for Victims

International Organization for Migration
2 132 42 9 40
Country code: 351-



The Protection Project - Portugal [DOC]

The Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), The Johns Hopkins University

[accessed 2009]

FORMS OF TRAFFICKING - Women are trafficked to Portugal for prostitution. In 2001, Brazilian authorities investigated possible Brazilian police involvement in a smuggling ring that sent Brazilian women to Spain and Portugal, where they were forced into prostitution. Authorities believed that the operation, which involved mostly minors, was tied to the mafia on the Iberian Peninsula. An estimated 500 Brazilian women were victims of the ring.

Why Portugal is a haven for paedophiles

Andrew Malone and Vabessa Allen, The Daily Mail, 2007 10 20

[accessed 11 July 2011]

After checking that the children were not suffering from any sexual infections, the doctor was joined by the orphanage caretaker, known as Bibi, who ushered the unfortunate children outside to a waiting van.  With the doctor following in his red Ferrari, Bibi drove the van to the prestigious homes of some of the leading members of Lisbon society - ranging from Portuguese government ministers and high-ranking diplomats, to famous television stars and members of the judiciary.  There, the children were repeatedly sexually abused. Some were allegedly drugged to make them compliant; others were plied with alcohol.  This continued for years. Assaults were filmed; pictures of one attack were subsequently found at the home of a suspected paedophile in Paris.  According to medical records, the victims' injuries were horrific - and consistent with serious sexual assault and rape. In witness statements, many were able to describe in minute detail the homes where they were taken and identifying marks on the bodies of their abusers.

"Portugal is a paedophiles' paradise," said Mr Namora, now a lawyer campaigning on behalf of the Casa Pia victims. "If all the names come out, this will be an earthquake in Portugal. There is a massive, sophisticated network at play here - stretching from the government to the judiciary and the police.  "The network is enormous and extremely powerful. There are magistrates, ambassadors, police, politicians - all have procured children from Casa Pia. It is extremely difficult to break this down. These people cover for each other, because if one is arrested, they all are arrested. They don't want anyone to know."


*** ARCHIVES ***

ECPAT Regional Overview: The Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children in Europe [PDF]

ECPAT International, November 2014

[accessed 6 September 2020]

Maps sexual exploitation of children in travel and tourism (SECTT), online child sexual exploitation (OCSE), trafficking of children for sexual purposes, sexual exploitation of children through prostitution, and child early and forced marriage (CEFM). Other topics include migration, child labour, racism and dicsminitation, welfare systems, gender inequality.

Human Rights Reports » 2019 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 10, 2020

[accessed 6 September 2020]

SEXUAL EXPLOITATION OF CHILDREN - Statutory rape is a crime with penalties ranging up to 10 years in prison, and authorities enforced the law. The minimum age for legal consensual sex is 16. The law prohibits child pornography. Penalties range up to eight years in prison.

Concluding Observations of the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC)

UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, 12 October 2001

[accessed 5 March 2011]

[30] The Committee notes the State party's recent initiative to develop mechanisms allowing doctors, teachers and other relevant professionals to lodge complaints of alleged sexual abuse or exploitation of children (Law 99 of 25 August 2001).

[56] The Committee notes the State party's intention, as declared during the dialogue, to proceed with ratification of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, and to adopt relevant domestic legislation.

Concluding Observations of the Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights

International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, 01 December 2000

[accessed 19 September 2011]

[14] The Committee takes note with concern of the increase in pedophilia and child pornography. These phenomena are associated with the increase in drug trafficking and consumption and other criminal activities that endanger the security and health of the population of the State party.

Portugal braced as child prostitution ring trial opens

Giles Tremlett and agencies in Lisbon, The Guardian, 26 November 2004

[accessed 19 December 2010]

The case has shocked Portugal, making some people aware of pedophilia for the first time and throwing into question the way governments have run orphanages.

Committee On Rights Of Child Concludes Consideration Of Portugal's Report On Compliance With Convention

UN Committee On Rights Of Child CRC, Press Release, 1 October 2001

[accessed 11 July 2011]

DISCUSSION - Asked about the sexual abuse of children, the delegation said that the minimum age for sexual consent was 14 years and sexual crimes committed against children below that age were punished by law. Those who facilitated prostitution activities involving children under 18 years were prosecuted. To that end, the Government had signed the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Sale of Children, Child Pornography and Child Prostitution.

UN Committee On Economic, Social And Cultural Rights – Press Release

UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, 24th session, 15 November 2000

[accessed 11 July 2011]

DISCUSSION - In response to the questions raised by Committee experts during the previous meeting, the members of the delegation of Portugal said that a number of agencies had been set up to oversee the well-being of children and their development in and outside the family. A mechanism had also been established to coordinate the work of the various agencies dealing with children. In addition, the Government had also put in place a legislative provision in which child abuse had been made a crime. In order to reduce child prostitution, particularly that catering to tourists, the Government had taken measures to create employment for street children.

ECPAT 2002 Agenda for Action Report [DOC]

ECPAT International, 2002

[accessed 11 July 2011]

[page 47]


FORMAL COMPLAINT REQUIREMENT - Brazil, Chile and Venezuela, among others, have procedures that require older children (on average from 15 years and up) to file a complaint before a prosecution can take place. In Portugal, victims older than 16 years must file a complaint, but for cases involving younger children the public prosecutor may prosecute independently if it is in the victim’s interest.




Human Rights Reports » 2005 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 8, 2006

[accessed 10 February 2020]

CHILDREN - The high-profile trial of a pedophilia operation at the Casa Pia children's home in Lisbon that began in November 2004 continued at year's end. The 8 defendants faced charges ranging from procurement and rape to homosexual acts with adolescents and sexual abuse of minors for abusing 46 children.

Trafficking of children for sexual exploitation and forced labor remained a problem.

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