Seven people have been charged in the brutal gang rape of a 16-year-old girl last month in Brazil. The accused consist of six men and one juvenile, but it is alleged that only three men and the minor took part in the sexual assault. They have been charged with raping a vulnerable victim, which carries a maximum prison sentence of 15 years, and making a pornographic video of a minor, which carries a maximum sentence of 8 years. They have also been charged with distributing a pornographic video of a minor, which carries a maximum 6-year prison sentence. Two other men are being charged for helping to circulate the videos online. A gang leader in the Rio de Janeiro slum, where the attack allegedly took place, is being charged for giving his blessing for the rape.
— CNN International (@cnni) June 18, 2016
The gang rape caused mass outrage in Brazil after video of the attack was posted online. According to Latin America News Dispatch, the video showed the undressed, unconscious girl on a mattress. Two men were manhandling and mocking her, saying that she had been “knocked up by 30 guys.” The victim reported that she had been with her boyfriend of 3 years, 19-year-old Lucas Perdomo Duarte Santos, and that they had been alone.
She woke up the next day naked, drugged, and surrounded by 33 armed men in a house she did not recognize. Police later said that they believe her memory of 33 men was a “false memory” because of the trauma and drugs and that it may have been influenced by the video that was posted.
— Global Citizen (@GlblCtzn) June 11, 2016
The gang rape came with the common victim blaming, with many saying the young woman brought it on herself or brushing off the attack as no big deal. Even members of the police force were blaming the victim, causing widespread anger and igniting protests and demonstrations. The lead investigator on her case was removed for not taking the allegation seriously and was replaced by a female investigator. The fact that the perpetrators were so bold as to post the video and images online, is indicative of the rape culture in not only Brazil but many countries around the world.
Artist Marcio Freitas created an exhibit on the famous Copacabana Beach entitled “I Will Never Be Silenced,” featuring 420 pairs of red or red-stained underwear, and photographs of models with a bloody handprint covering their mouths, scattered across the beach.
420 rapes every 3 days. Brazil protests, “I’ll never be silent”. Chilling.https://t.co/biRSGeIRcl
— Habiba Daggash (@HabibaDaggash) June 8, 2016
The powerful exhibit symbolizes the rape rate in Brazil of 420 rapes every 72 hours. This is just the victims that report their assaults, and the numbers are likely much higher. Just one day before the assault on the young woman that sparked this outrage, a 17-year-old girl was gang-raped by five teenagers she knew.
The victim of the gang rape, who is now in witness protection, spoke to CNN affiliate TV Record recounting what she remembered from the horrible attack, and saying that public support has been crucial for her. With her face hidden, she revealed her feelings by saying the following.
“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,”
The spotlight on Brazil comes ahead of the 2016 Summer Olympics set to take place in Rio de Janeiro in August, when thousands of people will visit the country. Police Commissioner Christiana Bento has said that she hopes that this case will serve as an example to society “which must no longer see women as a thing, but rather someone who should be respected.” Two of the suspects have been arrested, but the rest remain at large.
[Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images]