Mass gang rape of teen in Brazil uploaded by perpetrators to social media | News and current affairs from Germany and around the world | DW | 27.05.2016

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Mass gang rape of teen in Brazil uploaded by perpetrators to social media

The brutal gang rape of a teenager by more than 30 men has shocked Brazil, where violence against women is endemic and often goes unreported. Some of the suspects broadcast their act on Twitter.

Brazilian police said they have identified several of the more than 30 men accused of having taken part in the mass rape of a teenager in a Rio de Janeiro slum. One of the suspects is said to be the victim's 19-year-old boyfriend; at least four of the perpetrators have reportedly been identified to date.

According to a statement the victim gave to the police, which was allegedly leaked to the local press, the girl says she was drugged after meeting her boyfriend on Saturday.

She then says she woke up naked and bleeding the next day and made her way home and then to the hospital, only finding out what had happened when she was made aware that there were videos and pictures on Twitter showing her alleged aggressors bragging and joking about their actions.

The videos were first spotted on Tuesday, according to local media, and were quickly taken down following a plethora of complaints to both Twitter and the Brazilian police.

Acting President Michel Temer meanwhile called an emergency meeting of the security ministers for each of Brazil's states to consider gender-related crimes.

A viral rape video

Before being removed, some of them had amassed as many 500 'likes' and received several comments shaming the alleged victim.

This, along with the brutality of the crime, led many Brazilians to take to Twitter themselves to denounce not only this particular rape, but a culture of sexism in the country, which they believe creates and enables potential rapists.

Many used the hashtags #EstuproColectivo - "mass rape" - and #EstuproNuncaMais - "rape never again."

One user with a widely shared cartoon depicting a bleeding woman lying on the ground, attacked by a "male" Mars symbol. He captioned it by writing: "One girl. 33 men, cowardly monsters. There is no excuse for rape."

User Natasha Pimentel echoed the sentiment in her own tweet, saying "The assaulted or raped women are almost always guilty. A male chauvinist society criminalizes the victim."

Blaming the victim

Some, like Journalist Leilane Neubarth, however, targeted their anger at the social media users who shared pictures or videos of the crime.

"In addition to punishing those who committed the act of rape, there should be ways of punishing those who passed the video along. This encourages madmen," she wrote.

Yet, among the outpouring of solidarity for the teenager and the other victims of rape, there were still comments meant to shame the victim herself.

One of them came from singer-songwriter Lobao, who, in two tweets, told his more than 350,000 followers that they "should not be surprised" at these kind of events in a country "that manufactures mini-sluts with a high and precocious erotization." The singer, who openly criticizes the leftist PT party, added that the country "infantilizes" its citizens to the point that they no longer take responsibility for their actions.

Lobao received many responses accusing him of blaming victims of rape for their assaults, which he repeatedly denied on the thread following this tweet. He later went on to say he was talking about the high number of child prostitutes in Brazil, which has been extensively documented in the past.

Few users believed him, however, and he continued to receive angry accusations of "slut-shaming."

In one response, a group of journalists posted a cartoon depicting four people with devil horns whose knee-jerk reaction after such news stories is to blame the woman. It reads, from left to right, "16 and she already has a son," "It seems like she was on drugs," "Look at her clothes," and "She deserved it!" Below it, the group wrote: "No to sexism."

According to local media, Brazilian authorities documented nearly 50,000 cases of rape in 2014 - or one case every 11 minutes.

However, these are only the reported cases: It is estimated that only about 35 percent of sexual assaults are reported in Brazil.

A recent international survey by NGO ActionAid said that 86 percent of Brazilian women reported having suffered harassment or violence in urban areas, a number that could include unreported cases of rape.

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