(Photo: Flickr.com/Garry Knight)
#RapeNeverAgain, #NoToSexism, and our personal favorite, #OffWithTheirHeads
The Brazilian police are on the hunt for at least 30 people suspected in the alleged gang-rape of a 16 year-old teenage girl and of publicly posting a disturbing video of the event on Twitter. The perpetrators also posted images recording their brutal beating of the young girl which has stirred a national backlash of anger. The girl had reportedly been drugged by her boyfriend and regained consciousness in a room of more than 30 armed assailants.
The events occurred in the beautiful but criminally troubled city of Rio de Janiero. The police have issued a statement last Friday that it was unclear whether there were “30, 33 or 36” people involved in the rape. The case was initially investigated as a cybercrime(the same manner in which SNS defamation, torrent sharing and penis-photo spams are cybercrimes) when a 38-second video of the girl was circulated on social media. Only later did the girl come forth to the police, confused, broken and hurt, upon which authorities, pressured by an outraged public, began a belated official investigation.
The video graphically shows the girl, naked and unconscious, with male voices bragging about how “more than 30” people have raped her. They proceed to take close-ups of her genitals while poking at her and spewing vulgar language. The ruthless violence displayed on the video has shaken the social fabric of Rio as campaign groups have taken to the streets, demanding for reforms that will ensure better protection of women from male violence.
Public anger swells due to Twitter rape-video post/Photo: Yonhap News
The outpour of anger initially began on social media under varying hashtags such as #EstuproNuncaMais (Rape never again). The video, which was initially commented on by a series of misogynistic postings that include “she was drunk” and “she was wearing a short skirt”, has triggered harsh criticism on the troubling tendency of rape cases in Brazil going unreported as victims fear retaliation, shame, and blame for the criminal act inflicted on them. The victim of the Twitter rape video has also reportedly confessed that she had not initially come forth due to fears of social ostracization and humiliation. This sort of "victim-blaming" is as real as it is ridiculous. We don't blame a gun-shot victim for not wearing a Kevlar vest.
The Brazilian media has also come under sharp criticism for their sluggish reaction to the incident, with thousands of outspoken SNS users condemning the nation’s traditional media for their indirect role in the normalization of rape. One of the first articles on the incident, covered by national media giant O Globo, played a part in victim-blaming by focusing on the girl’s recreational drug-use and rearing in the slums. According to the Brazilian Forum for Public Security, 47,636 rapes were reported to the police in 2014, a minuscule 35% of all rape cases that actually occur annually.
Hundreds protest gang rape in Rio/Video: YouTube
It has definitely not been a good year for the nation known for its samba, soccer, Victoria Secret models and succulent barbecues. The healthcare outbreak of the Zika Virus, economic turmoil extending from the collapse of its federal funds, the troubled impeachment process of president Dilma Rousseff, and now, an international condemnation of its “culture of rape.” No safety, no money, no president. Yes, uber-expensive quadrennial global sporting event.
With this year’s summer Olympics set to begin in Rio in just two months, the world remains ambivalent towards the nation’s capability of hosting a safe and successful event. Meanwhile, with the majority of the 30-something rapists remaining at large, the jubilant and passionate vibe of Rio remains but an elusive memory to the city's citizens, women and a poor 16 year-old girl whose life has been uprooted by the worst kind of thugs to set foot in the jungle. I push for this year's Olympic rifle shooting event to use all 30 of these rapists as live targets. Naturally, no Kevlar.