First Arrest Made in Gang Rape Case in Brazil


Protesters gathered outside the Legislative Assembly of Rio de Janeiro on Friday after details emerged about the rape of a teenage girl.

Vanderlei Almeida/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The police in Brazil said on Saturday that they had made the first arrest in the search for more than 30 possible attackers in the gang rape of a 16-year-old girl, a case that has prompted widespread outrage and vows by the federal government to combat crimes against women, news agencies reported.

Brazilians reacted with shock after the May 21 assault came to light last week. Graphic photos and videos of the unconscious, naked teenager were posted on Twitter, and several men joked online about the attack.

The authorities said the teenager had been raped in the São João shantytown on the west side of Rio de Janeiro as she was visiting her boyfriend, The Associated Press reported. The girl told the police that she was briefly alone with him but remembered nothing until she woke up naked the next day in another building among dozens of men who had guns.

The first arrest came after the military police fanned out in search of four suspects who had been identified, the news organization Agence France-Presse reported. The police said they did not know if the boyfriend was one of the attackers, though he was being sought.

The case has rocked Brazil, Latin America’s largest nation, and highlighted its deep-rooted problem of violence against women. President Michel Temer promised to create a federal police unit to address crimes against women, The Associated Press reported.

“It’s absurd that in the 21st century we have to live with barbarous crimes like this,” said Mr. Temer, who also called an emergency meeting of the security ministers for each of Brazil’s states to consider gender-related crimes.

Demonstrators gathered in downtown Rio on Friday night with signs that said “Machismo kills” and “No means no,” Agence France-Presse reported. In São Paulo, protesters made a mural with messages that included “I like to wear necklines, that’s not an invitation to rape me.”

The girl, in brief comments to the O Globo newspaper, said: “It’s the stigma that hurts me the most. It is as if people are saying: ‘It’s her fault. She was using scanty clothes.’ I want people to know that it is not the woman’s fault. You can’t blame a robbery victim for being robbed.”

At a news conference on Friday, the police said the girl had reported being raped by 33 men; officials said they had been unable to confirm how many men might have taken part. Rio’s police chief, Fernando Veloso, said that if images had not been posted online, the authorities might not have learned of the attack.

The Brazilian Center for Latin American Studies found that more than 92,000 women were killed in gender-related crimes, including rape and domestic abuse, from 1980 to 2010.

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