Seven men charged in Brazil for 'mass rape' of a 16-year-old girl shared on social media

The case has shocked the nation, with protests demanding an end to violence against women

Katie Forster@katieforster
Saturday 18 June 2016 22:35
Women in Sao Paulo, Brazil march during a protest following the gang rape of a 16-year-old girl
Women in Sao Paulo, Brazil march during a protest following the gang rape of a 16-year-old girl

Six men and a boy are to be charged with the rape of a 16-year-old girl in Rio, police have said.

Pictures and videos of the unconscious victim were shared online in a mass rape case that has shocked Brazil and sparked protests demanding an end to violence against women in the country.

The attack took place in a poor neighbourhood in west Rio de Janiero on 21 May.

“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, on my hands,” the teenage victim said in an anonymous televised interview.

“Many people were laughing at me, and I was drugged, out of it. Many people with guns, boys laughing and talking.“

Social media posts showing men posing with the naked, semi-conscious victim, insulting her and boasting of her gang rape, began circulating on Twitter days after the assault.

Women march after gang-rape internet video shocks Brazil

Cristiana Bento, the lead investigator in the high-profile case, has asked for the arrest of all seven people charged.

Originally more than 30 men were suspected to have taken part in the attack. However, Ms Bento said information collected so far suggested the number of perpetrators may be lower.

She said the original figure could have been a “false memory” as a result of the victim’s drugged state and the trauma suffered.

It could also have been influenced by one of the videos circulated online in which a suspect gestures towards the teenage girl and says: “This one here, she got pregnant by more than 30”.

Along with four men authorities believe were directly involved in the attack, Ms Bento has asked for charges to be brought against two other people for allegedly helping circulate the videos online.

Ms Bento is also seeking charges against a gang leader in the Rio de Janeiro slum where the rape took place for allegedly giving the attack his blessing.

Protests against a 'culture of rape' in Brazil have taken place across the country and an online campaign has been set up using the hashtag #EstuproNuncaMais, meaning 'rape never again'.

Fears over security in Rio have spiked in the run-up to the Olympic Games in August, linked to cuts in police funding and increased political instability.

And now the state of Rio de Janeiro has declared a financial emergency, with the interim President saying the “serious economic crisis” could impede preparations for the event.

“This one case throws into stark relief the daily discrimination and intimidation experienced by women and girls, not just in Latin America, but all over the world,” Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, the Executive Director of UN Women, wrote in a statement in response to the attack.

“The intensity of protest in Brazil trending through social networks reflects the deep anger against the unrecognised or undeclared abuses that have suppressed or extinguished so many women’s lives.”

Additional reporting by Reuters and AP