Photo: Felipe Dana, AP
There is a delicate balance between the rights of individuals and their responsibilities to society. The protection of children has become society's concern worldwide because of repeated breaches of trust with the social contract of taking care of one's own children. However, I think the correct decision has been made in the case of seven year old Julia Lira, who has been selected to lead her Samba school in the great procession for Carnival in Rio this weekend.
There has been great controversy over her participation because of the highly charged sexuality of the event and the scantly clad women who will be surrounding her. A local child rights group challenged the decision to allow the youngest samba queen ever to be chosen to dance in front of such an enormous crowd.
While I understand the need and desire to physically protect her, there is no escaping the cultural psychology of her hometown. There will be other children in the crowds. It isn't as if she is the sole child being utterly corrupted by being exposed to half naked bodies. In fact, there is a children's parade prior to the main event. This is in a city famous for its nude beaches.
Her father, who runs the dance school, denies any exploitative motives and claims her outfit will "highlight her innocence." I agree her costume should not be a g-string and body glitter, but she is innocent, she is just dancing at a big party.
So maybe he chose to stir up a little publicity by putting her forward for the role. Or he maybe he loves her wants to support her in something she really wants to do. Perhaps she is just that good.
A Rio judge has authorized her to participate--so now it is up to the organizers and the crowds to respect her and keep her safe.