Girl, 7, becomes Samba Queen at Rio de Janeiro Carnival

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Melbourne, Feb 7 (ANI): Seven-year-old Julia Lira has become Rio de Janeiro's Carnival queen, a spectacle that has caused an international uproar.

Lira is from the Shirley Temple of samba, and her selection as the drum corps queen for the Viradouro samba group has raised a stink in a city that has seen pretty much everything during the annual mega-party that begins next week, reports The Couriermail.

According to a state agency that defends children's rights, Lira is too young to take on a traditionally sexy role.

However, the girl's father, who's the president of the Viradouro group, says Julia is a natural.

"Any man who looks at a seven-year-old child and feels any sort of excitement should go see a doctor," Marco Lira said before rehearsal this week. "She has the aptitude to be a drum corps queen - you'll see it tonight. She has a seriousness inside of her when she is on the stage."

Allowing Julia to be a drum corps queen "would increase the treatment of children as sexual objects in Brazilian society", said Carlos Nicodemos, director of the Rio de Janeiro state Council for the Defence of Children and Adolescents.

"We're not against kids participating in Carnival; it's part of Brazilian culture," Nicodemos said. "What we can't allow is putting a seven-year-old girl in a role that traditionally for Carnival has a very sexual focus." (ANI)

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