SAO PAULO – A controversial catwalk parade of minors up for adoption, staged this Tuesday in Cuiaba, capital of the western Brazilian state of Mato Grosso, aroused indignation across the nation and will be investigated, judicial authorities said Friday.
The Department of Internal Affairs of the Justice Ministry in Mato Grosso must send detailed reports about the controversial event, which had the support of the Order of Attorneys of Brazil (OAB) in that state, to the National Justice Council (CNJ), a public institution that oversees the work of the nation’s justice system.
National Justice Councilman and Judge Humberto Martins issued an order for the investigation of the “Adoption on the Runway” event at the Pantanal Shopping mall, and for those responsible to be tried in court if this proves to be a case of children’s rights being violated.
According to the CNJ, the event in which minors, mostly teens who had never been adopted, were paraded before the public to give them “visibility,” was authorized by the specialist in childhood law, Judge Gleide Bispo Santos, and had the backing of the Childhood and Youth Commission of the 0AB in Mato Grosso.
The Association of Judges for Democracy (AJD) released a statement that described the event as something like a throwback to the old slave auctions “in the days of the Conquest.”
“There are other ways to adoption without displaying children and adolescents or putting them once again in the position of victims,” the AJD said.
The organizers, the OAB of Mato Grosso and the Investigation and Support for Adoption in Mato Grosso (Ampara), released a joint note saying the event never had the objective of “wrapping up their adoptions” and that none of the minors was “forced” to parade.
“The children and teenagers who paraded did it together with their sponsors,” added the statement of the regional OAB, which regulates the exercise of the profession of attorneys in the country.
Nonetheless, for the AJD, the event did not observe the Code of the Minor, despite its good intention of “giving visibility to youngsters between ages 4 and 17” that could lead to their adoption, and despite the approval of the minors themselves. It simply “displayed them” like “merchandise.”
The government, through the National Secretariat of the Rights of the Child and Adolescent, expressed in a note its “repudiation” of the event and recalled that the Child and Adolescent Statute “attributes to society and to the government the duty to comprehensively protect” minors as to their “identity and emotions.”
The Ministry of the Woman, Family and Human Rights, which also repudiated the parade, reaffirmed its “commitment to guarantee the rights” of minors, “including that of adoption under conditions that primarily assure their well-being.”