Seven have been charged in the gang rape of a 16-year-old Brazilian girl that was uploaded to social media. The attack has shocked Brazil, coming to symbolize what activists have deemed a culture of misogyny.
Police in Rio de Janeiro charged six men and a juvenile on Friday with the gang rape of a 16-year-old girl, an attack that sparked global outrage after videos of the incident were shared on social media.
The May 21 attack, which took place in an abandoned building in Rio’s Morro do Borao slum, shocked Brazil as videos emerged of men posing with the unconscious victim.
The attack came to symbolize Brazil’s problem of violence against women.
Officer Cristiana Bento, who is overseeing the investigation, said evidence collected so far shows that three men and a minor took part in the actual gang rape, not 33 people as the victim initially suggested. Bento said she believes the victim’s statement was a “false memory,” perhaps the result of her drugged state during the attack or the trauma suffered.
The videos and images that appeared on social media alerted police to what happened and helped them identify suspects in their investigation.
Authorities believe four men were directly involved in the attack, and Bento has asked for charges to be brought against two other people for allegedly helping circulate the videos online. She 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.
Two suspects have been arrested and the rest remain at large. The victim is currently in a witness protection program.
Protesting ‘culture of rape’
Activists said the recent case has also highlighted an entrenched culture of rape and misogyny in Brazil, which allows the violation of women while blaming them for the crimes committed against them.
Despite video and photographic evidence of her abuse while unconscious, the 16-year-old faced a social media backlash, which included death threats, and attempts to undermine her victimhood, with allegations that she was a gangster’s prostitute who regularly traded sex for drugs.
Even the initial lead investigator, police chief Alessandro Thiers, suggested that the incident may have been consensual. Thiers has since been removed from the case and replaced with Cristiana Bento, who has stated that the video footage proved the girl had been collectively raped.
“She was the victim of sexual abuse, and she’s being victimized and judged here,” Bento said at a press conference last month. “This girl should be looked after.”