Seven Year Old Samba Queen Stirs Controversy in Brazil

Some people are up in arms about a recent report that the Viradouro samba school has selected seven-year-old Julia Lira to be their Queen for the huge annual Carnival parade in the Sambodromo. Julia's father, Marco Lira, is the owner of the samba school and her mother, Monica Lira, is a police official. Both parents think it is totally acceptable for their daughter to take on the role, even though it is normally reserved for women in their late teens and twenties.

“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,” president of the Rio de Janeiro Defense Council for Children and Adolescents Carlos Nicodemus told Epoca magazine.

The littlest Lira was crowned queen of the drum section of the Viradouro school in early January. Her election didn't attract much attention until Nicodemus petitioned the court to prevent the girl from performing her duties as samba queen.

Julia's parents along with the community of Niteroi, where the Viradouro samba school is located, do not agree with Nicodemus's assessment of the situation. “I’m her mother and I want her to be in the parade,” said Monica Lira, adding that Julia will be dressed in an age-appropriate costume, not a barely there “sensual bikini” worn buy the majority of queens.

The Viradouro parade will be specifically directed at children since the theme of their parade is a celebration of Mexico and many well-known and loved children's acts from that country will be performing alongside the samba school, such as "Chavo del Ocho" and "El Chapulin Colorado." If Julia is allowed to carry out her royal duties, she will not be the first minor child to act as queen for a samba school, in 2003 and 2004, two different twelve year old girls were made queens of their samba school and allowed to dance in the Sambodromo.