Brazilian Gangrape Victim Speaks Out, Two of 30 Accused Arrested


Demonstrators protest the gangrape of a 16-year-old girl in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Friday, 27 May  2016. Their signs read in Portuguese: “Save our girls,” left, and “Machismo kills.” (Photo: AP)
Demonstrators protest the gangrape of a 16-year-old girl in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Friday, 27 May 2016. Their signs read in Portuguese: “Save our girls,” left, and “Machismo kills.” (Photo: AP)

Brazilian Gangrape Victim Speaks Out, Two of 30 Accused Arrested

Rio de Janeiro police are investigating allegations that more than 30 men and boys raped a 16-year-old girl, officials revealed, as outrage spread in the host city for the upcoming Olympics, and reverberated across the country. Two men have been arrested and the police are looking for four other suspects.

The reported assault was discovered after one of the suspects posted a video of the nude, semi-conscious youth, with a few men brazenly insulting the girl, showing their faces, on Twitter. One man is heard saying, “more than 30 impregnated her!” Another photo posted showed a different man with his face next to the woman’s genitalia with a caption that reads, “Rio state opens a new tunnel for the speed train.”

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Four Accused Identified, Two Arrests Made

At a news conference on Friday, the police said the girl reported being raped by 33 men. The police said they had been unable to confirm exactly how many men may have taken part.

Agencia Brasil said the suspects are 22-year-old Rai Souza, who turned himself into police, and 20-year-old Lucas Perdomo, a local football player. Police declined to provide details about the two people arrested.

Police has asked the public to help track down the four men and identify the others. Local reports said more than 800 people had called a hotline that was set up to share information.



A woman holds up a sign that reads in Portuguese “Not to rape” during a protest on Friday. (Photo: AP)
A woman holds up a sign that reads in Portuguese “Not to rape” during a protest on Friday. (Photo: AP)

Images Appeared on Social Media Earlier This Week

“If these images hadn’t been posted, maybe we wouldn’t be here right now,” said Fernando Veloso, head of Rio’s civil police department, adding that many rapes go unreported.

The victim’s grandmother responded to the brutal crime and the online circulation of the video:

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.

Victim Speaks Out

The unidentified victim spoke with Al-Jazeera and CNN on how she felt and what she remembers from the incident.

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, by my hands. Many people laughing at me, and I was drugged, out of it. Many people with guns, boys laughing and talking.


A woman shouts holding a banner that reads in Portuguese “We’re all bleeding” as she protests the gangrape. (Photo: AP)
A woman shouts holding a banner that reads in Portuguese “We’re all bleeding” as she protests the gangrape. (Photo: AP)

Gender-related Crimes in Brazil

The case has rocked Latin America’s largest nation and highlighted its endemic problem of violence against women.

The announcement came as acting President Michel Temer called an emergency meeting of the security ministers for each of Brazil’s states to consider gender-related crimes.

“It’s absurd that in the 21st century we have to live with barbarous crimes like this,” Temer said in a statement.

Authorities say the rape happened last Saturday while the girl was visiting her boyfriend in the Sao Joao shantytown on the west side of Rio de Janeiro.

“I want them to await the justice of God. I feel like trash,” the 16-year-old said in brief comments to O Globo newspaper. “It’s the stigma that hurts me the most. It is as if people are saying ‘it’s her fault. She was wearing scanty clothes.’ I want people to know that it is not the woman’s fault. You can’t blame a robbery victim for being robbed.”

Brazil has long struggled to curb violence against women. A study by the Brazilian Center for Latin American Studies found that between 1980 and 2010, more than 92,000 women were killed in crimes related to gender, involving incidents from rape to domestic abuse. Almost 50,000 rapes were reported in 2014 alone.

A woman attends a protest against rape and violence against women in Rio de Janeiro. (Photo: Reuters)
A woman attends a protest against rape and violence against women in Rio de Janeiro. (Photo: Reuters)

The Accused Were Armed, Possession of Guns Common in Rio

The girl’s 19-year-old boyfriend is one of the men being sought, but police said they did not know whether he may have been one of the attackers. Police said the men were armed, though it wasn’t clear if the weapons were used to intimidate the girl during the attack.

Guns are common in Rio’s drug- and-violence-plagued slums, as are reprisal killings.

When asked by reporters if the girl’s life might be in danger for reporting the incident, Veloso responded:

That would be a subjective answer. Who isn’t at risk in Rio de Janeiro?

Brazilian Economic Crisis

The attack took place in Rio de Janeiro’s favelas, which are most dense and extremely poor neighbourhoods that are most often built to the side of the city’s steep slopes. Currently, there is a wave of violence that has hit the favelas again due to Brazil facing one of its worst economic crisis in nearly a century. $550 million was cut from 2016’s budget for the police and special forces that used to heavily patrol the favelas.

Social Media Reacts

Hashtags on Twitter such as #EstuproNaoÉCulpaDaVitima – Portuguese for “rape is not the victim’s fault” – and #EstuproNuncaMais (RapeNeverAgain), blasting the reported crime were among the top global trends.

Many Facebook users in Brazil, including suspended President Dilma Rousseff, the nation’s first woman leader, changed their profile photos to the Venus female gender symbol with words calling for an end to a “culture of rape.”

The victim herself took to Facebook to say:

It’s not my uterus that hurts, it’s my soul, because there are such cruel people who are not punished. I really thought I’d be judged badly. But I wasn’t. We could all go through this one day.

(With agency inputs.)

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