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"Mess with one, mess with all"

Thousands Protest Across Brazil Against Violence Towards Women

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Rio de Janeiro - Thousands have flocked into streets across Brazil the past few days in fury at the gang rape of a 16-year-old girl in Rio de Janeiro. The mass protests filling the roads with crimson paint, placards and chants support the victims of the country’s widespread sexual assault problem.

The uproar was provoked by a tweet of several men gloating over a clip of a naked, unconscious girl. The girl later said she had awoken drugged and bleeding surrounded by 33 armed men in a strange house on 22 May.  The video came a day after the reported rape of a 17-year-old girl by five teenagers in Piauí. The nation is in shock.

The first demonstration swarmed in front of the Legislative Assembly of Rio de Janeiro on 27 May. Hundreds of protestors waved banners and yelled in unison: “Mess with one, mess with all of us.” Two days later hundreds of people, mostly women, gathered outside the Justice Ministry in Brasilia.

The main event happened this week with thousands shouting and marching in 11 cities across Brazil, underlining how close to home rape feels for many Brazilian women. Feminist groups nationwide were mobilized by two artists for the Por Todas Elas event (For All the Women).
34,000 were listed as attending on Facebook.

São Paulo saw 5,000 hit the streets, burning an effigy of Alexandre Frota – an actor who said he would have non-consensual sex with a woman.

Another 5,000, reported to have gathered in Rio Grande do Sol, saw another puppet burn the same evening. This one symbolized a rapist.

Rio de Janeiro heard a group repeat the Rio girl’s phrase “when I woke up I had 30 men on top of me”, 30 times. In Poços de Caldas they had a show every 11 minutes, recognizing how often rape is reported in Brazil. Blood-red paint was splashed everywhere by women in the black cloth of mourning.

The protestors fight for the punishment of the 33 men and against the shame culture Brazil has around rape victims. Because of the difficulty victims have in being taken seriously many assaults go unreported and unpunished – experts estimate the police only hear of 10%. Many Brazilian men are apathetic towards rape. Responses to the tweet included vile jokes or claims she had it coming. Even some politicians, like Congress Jair Balsonar, are loudly anti-feminist. In many cases doubt is cast on the victim. The Rio case is only irrefutable because it had a video.

Yet change is happening gradually, with an act boosting gang rapists’ sentences by two thirds from six to 10 years passing the Brazilian Senate on Tuesday.

The world was similarly shocked by the 2012 Delhi gang rape. Rape affects every country. It is difficult to quantify because of stigma attached to victims and rape being tough to prove. One in three women experience physical or sexual violence worldwide, according to the UN. The Rio girl would probably not have told authorities if it were not for her attacker’s tweet.

 

 

The Haunting Ground (2015)
by Kirby Dick 

Documentary on sexual assault on campuses in America.

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Paula (2015)
by Santiago Mitre

Feature film on gang rape in Bueno Aires.

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India's Daughter (2015)
by Leslee Udwin

Documentary on riots in India after the rape and murder of a student.

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