Crisis talks over Brazil ‘mass rape’

One of Rio's favelasImage copyright
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The attack happened in a poor community in Rio de Janeiro

Brazil’s interim President Michel Temer has called an emergency meeting of state security ministers after a gang rape of a teenage girl in Rio de Janeiro triggered wide condemnation.

He vowed to form a federal police unit to deal with violence against women.

The girl, 16, believes she was doped after going to her boyfriend’s house last Saturday and says she woke up in a different house, surrounded by the men.

The video of the attack was put on social media, shocking Brazil.

Police are hunting more than 30 male suspects. Arrest warrants have been issued, including one for the boyfriend.

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Protesters in Rio demanded reforms including better protection from male violence on International Women’s Day in March

“I condemn most forcefully the rape of the teenager in Rio de Janeiro,” Mr Temer said.

“It is absurd that in the 21st Century we should have to live with barbaric crimes such as this.”

He said the authorities were working “to find those responsible” for the attack.

The assault has provoked an online campaign against what campaigners call a culture of rape in Brazil.

Conflicting versions of the story are still coming in, but the rape is said to have taken place in a poor community in western Rio over the weekend.

According to a statement she is reported to have given to police, the girl woke up on Sunday, naked and wounded, and made her way home.

Only days later did she find out that some of the alleged rapists had put images of the attack on Twitter.

A 40-second-video was widely shared and followed by a wave of misogynistic comments, before the users’ accounts were suspended.

In a message posted on Facebook, the victim said she was thankful for the support she had received and added: “I really thought I was going to be badly judged.”

She later said: “All of us can go through this one day. It does not hurt the uterus but the soul because there are cruel people not being punished!! Thanks for the support.”

‘We all cried’

The girl’s grandmother told Brazilian media the family had watched the video and cried.

“I regretted watching it. When we heard the story we didn’t believe what was happening. It’s a great affliction. It’s a depressing situation,” she told Folha de S Paulo newspaper.

“She is not well. She is very confused. This was very serious.”

Campaign groups have been calling for protests over the coming days.

There has also been an outpouring of anger on social media, under the hashtag #EstuproNuncaMais (Rape never again).

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This tweet reads: “I don’t want to live scared of being the next victim anymore, I don’t want it”

A collective of journalists has posted a satirical image of citizens donning devil’s horns, condemning a rape victim for having provoked the attack.

The inscription reads “No to sexism”, and the images, clockwise from top right: “But look at her clothes…”; “She deserved it!”; “16 years old and already has a son…”; “Apparently she was on drugs”.

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Experts say many cases of rape in Brazil go unreported as victims fear retaliation, shame, and blame for the violence they have suffered.

Rape in Brazil

  • 47,636 rapes were reported to the police in 2014
  • It is estimated only 35% of rape cases are reported
  • Rape of an adult is punishable by a prison sentence of between six and 10 years
  • Sentence for rape of a minor is eight to 12 years in prison

Source: Brazilian Forum for Public Security

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