It’s the biggest country in Latin America and has great potential to be a superpower in the future, but the rampant street crime in Brazil’s major cities is a big security challenge for the government.

The gangs, petty thieves and drug peddlers, who lurk in the streets of Rio de Janeiro and Brasilia, are a vexing problem for Brazil — the country that will be hosting the 2014 FIFA World Cup and 2016 Olympics.

Recent cases of sexual crimes in Rio de Janeiro — Brazil’s commercial hub — have generated a big hullabaloo in the international media, raising concerns about the security of tourists who are expected to visit for the sporting events.

The latest case of rape on a moving bus in Rio de Janeiro has shocked the country, and triggered a vibrant discussion on social media. An armed assailant, who was under the influence of drugs, according to witnesses, got on a bus and hit a 30-year-old woman before raping her. Apparently, the man had forced the driver to keep on driving, while he committed the heinous crime.

This case has followed the gang rape of an American tourist on a moving bus in March, while her French boyfriend was handcuffed and physically abused by assailants with a crowbar.

The high incidence of sexual crimes in cities such as Rio de Janeiro shows the difficulty of curbing crime in overpopulated places.

Soaring migration especially makes it difficult for the authorities to enforce law in a sprawling cities where posh neighborhoods exist alongside shantytowns. If a country such as Brazil aspires to become a superpower one day, it has to ensure that women who live and visit there are protected.

— The Khaleej Times, Dubai, May 7

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