Protests in Brazil After the Gang Rape of a Teenage Girl Was Mocked on Twitter

Illustration for article titled Protests in Brazil After the Gang Rape of a Teenage Girl Was Mocked on Twitter

Protestors marched in Rio de Janiero on May 27, attempting to reach the Supreme Court before being pepper sprayed by the police. The protests were intended to denounce a “culture of rape” in the city that was most recently and horrifically illustrated by the gang rape of a 16-year-old girl.

CNN reports that a 38-second clip of the naked, unconscious girl was posted to Twitter last week. In it a man can be heard saying that “at least 30" men had had sex with her. On Monday, a raid on a favela in western Rio took place to carry out warrants, but police haven’t released how many suspects they are looking for and there are still no reported arrests.

In an incredible show of bravery and resilience, the victim came forward with her story. An affiliate of CNN spoke with the unnamed teen with her attorney present.

“If I have to wait for the justice system, they’ve already shown that nothing is going to happen... I am waiting for the justice of God. That might be late but it never fails.”

“I fell asleep and woke up in a completely different place, with a man under me, one on top of me and two holding me down, on my hands. Many people laughing at me, and I was drugged, out of it. Many people with guns, boys laughing and talking.”

“I knew there would be no justice, that I would be ashamed. In the first moment, I didn’t even want to tell my mom,” she said. “Now I am sure that if I was going through this alone it would be much worse.”

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The lead investigator was removed from the case over the weekend after facing accusations of bias against the the victim. The case is now in the hands of social services and a unit committed to crimes against minors.

Image via AP.

Contributing Writer, writing my first book for the Dial Press called The Lonely Hunter, follow me on Twitter @alutkin

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Brazilian here. Although the article is factually correct, I think it would be useful to expand the information a bit, in order to get more context. Since I already sort of did that with my comment in the article about the Italian woman burnt alive by an ex-boyfriend, here it goes:

The incident occurred, and all the involved live, in favelas (slums) in Rio de Janeiro. So, they’re poor people, what enhanced the already regular lack of effort from authorities (if the criminals hadn’t made it public through social media, bring attention to the case, I’m sadly sure that there was not going to be much of a reaction from society).

The crime itself: the 16 years old victim was dating one of the rapists, a low-level member of a drug trafficking gang. In a meeting between them, into the favela, the girl passed out, due to the consumption of alcohol, or drugs, or both. If this consumption was voluntary or not, it was not fully determined yet. By reasons still not fully known (different accounts says vengeance for the girl cheating on him, punishment for drugs debt, mere sadism, etc.) the “boyfriend” decided to rape the unconscious girl, along 30 or 33 (accounts vary, but it was at least 30 men, as stated in the article) friends, supposedly also members of the drug dealing gang. After the raping, they decided to film the naked unconscious girl, exposing her private parts, while making sick comments, and post it online (there’s no footage of the actual rape, but they openly confessed it on camera, bragging about).

The case picked up the interest of the media, the natural outrage ensued, and the usually careless authorities got themselves forced to respond. On the plus side, the girl got all the necessary medical assistance (medicine cocktail to prevent pregnancy and STDs, and the exams showed none). On the sadly expectable down side, soon followed the usual attempts to blame the victim: “she had it coming, for dating a criminal”, “she deserved it for being slutty”, “she’s a drug addict”, “what else expect from a ‘favela girl’”, etc.. Things got to the point that the Police Chief in charge of the case had to be substituted by a female Police Chief, due to his open attempts to discredit the victim and awful comments. Unfortunately, the woman Police Chief didn’t much better, and today released a forensic report, stating that “yes, there was a rape, but there’s no evidence of violence”, implying that, as long there was not visible, ostensible wounds on the girl, the rape of a 16 years old girl by more than two dozens of men wasn’t “violent”...

The police is still investigating, a few arrests were made, but kept under secrecy, to “preserve the integrity of the suspects”. Two of them, who presented themselves to present their versions, appeared on tv laughing about the whole thing... Meanwhile, following one of the sad aspects of the culture of favelas in Brazil, there’re already strong rumors that the bosses of the drug traffic in the favela where the crime occurred have already ordered the hunting and execution of the rapists, a form of “justice” these poor communities frequently see as more efficient than the State. Of course, this “justice” is motivated much more for the anger for the criminals bringing attention to the community - what disrupts the drug trafficking -, and as a display of the absolute power of the drug lords over the favela, than for a real concern for the victim.

As for the protests, they need a bit of context. Right now, Brazil political landscape is strongly divided between the left-field, that supports the suspended President Dilma Rousseff, and her right-winged oppositors. I will not delve in the specifics of this, because is complex, and a whole different issue. But what matters here is that women rights, feminism in general, and the fight against misogyny are points strongly identified with the left in Brazil (in fact, most of the vilest comments towards the victims of rape here come from right-wing people, and our conservative legislators right now are working on a law that severely damages the protective measures for rape victims, under the pretense of “combating abort”). So, the protests on this incident in Rio are strongly tied with the several protests happpening in the last days, promoted by the leftists, against the provisory government, seen as ilegitim and a coup.

The fact that the protest mentioned in this article occurred in front of the STF (our version of the SCOTUS) is no coincidence, for two main reasons: first, the vast majority of the left see the STF and the Juduciary Branch as an accomplish in what they see as a coup d’etat, and a tool of the right-wing conservatives. Second, a few years ago, one of the most controverse and conservative Ministers of the Court, Gilmar Mendes (our own version of Anthony Scalia, but even worse, believe me!) conceded an Habeas Corpus to Roger Abdelmassih, a surgeon accused of raping several of his female patients under anesthesia. Abdelmassih had been already convicted in the lower courts, and pleaded to be allowed to wait the appeals in freedom. Gilmar Mendes agreeded and, as soon as he got out of jail, Abdelmassih left Brazil, hiding aroung the Globe for years, only being caught recently, by the Interpol. A lot of people got mad at Mendes, regarding him responsible for the escape of a serial rapist. Of course, he completely laughed off all the protests and in the following years keep giving decisions that enraged a lot of people.