Igarassu is a town in Brazil's state of Pernambuco, in the north-east of the country. It is located around 32 kilometres from Recife, and about 118,000people live here.
Most people live off agriculture, fishing and tourism. This work, mostly in rural areas, is seasonal and not well paid.
Although Brazil’s economy is one of the largest in the world, there is economic inequality amongst its population. Children living in poverty in this north-east region of Brazil face poverty, are exposed to violence and have limited access to education and health services.
Since 1968, SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children, young people and families and advocating for their rights in Igarassu.
Some areas of Brazilian society are marked by violence. Young people are especially at risk: Brazil´s youth homicide rates are the third highest in the world.
The state of Pernambuco, where Igarassu is located, had the 10th highest homicide rate among all Brazilian states in 2019.
Homicides are the leading cause of death for young men aged between 15 – 19 years old. The state government is trying to tackle these homicide rates in various ways. One example is an educational program that extends high school times from 5 to 10 hours a day.
While young men are more at risk of homicide, girls and young women are more at risk of sexual exploitation and violence. These offences often take place behind closed doors, in homes where children should be the safest.
In the state of Pernambuco, where Igarassu is located, there are, on average, 1000 reports of sexual violence against children and adolescents recorded each year.
More work needs to be done in order to protect children and young people. Shockingly sexual exploitation of children remains largely unpunished.