RIO DE JANEIRO – The court system in Rio de Janeiro will issue a ruling this week on whether a 7-year-old girl may participate as Carnival queen for one of the samba schools competing in the huge annual parade in the Sambodromo, the local press reported Sunday.
Julia, the daughter of the president of the Viradouro school – Marco Lira – and police official Monica Lira, was crowned at the beginning of January as the queen of the Carnival dance group’s drum section, an honor that normally is conferred upon attractive female models in their late teens or twenties.
The election of the youngster did not bring further comment until the president of the Rio de Janeiro Defense Council for Children and Adolescents, Carlos Nicodemus, asked the courts to prevent the girl from participating in the parade with her father’s samba school, which will honor Mexico as its performance theme at this year’s samba competition.
“I’m not against the participation of children at Carnival, but to put her as the queen of the drum section will foster the sexual exhibition of children,” Nicodemus told the magazine Epoca.
Julia’s parents and the community of Niteroi, where the samba school is located, are of another opinion, however, and hope that the judiciary will render its decision in the next few days although they are confident that the girl will be able to participate in the parade, as planned.
The parents say that the appearance of their daughter will foster the family nature of Carnival, quite apart from promoting any sexual stereotypes.
“I’m her mother and I want her to be in the parade,” said Monica Lira, who added that Julia will use a costume appropriate for her age and not “a sensual bikini” of the kind worn by many of the samba school’s female dancers.
The Viradouro parade will be directed, in large measure, to the children among the public since in the tribute to Mexican culture well-known personalities from popular kids’ television shows will sing to the youngsters, including “Chavo del Ocho” and “El Chapulin Colorado.”
Despite the objections of the Rio children’s defense council, Julia would not be the first little girl to be the queen in a Carnival parade: In 2003, then-12-year-old Raissa de Oliveira took over that role for the Beija-Flor samba school and a year later Rafaela Nascimento, also 12 at the time, was the queen for the Tradicao samba school.