venerdì 19 agosto 2016


Outraged, Brazilians took to the streets of Copacabana in Rio and marched on Brazilia’s Supreme Court, demanding justice for the girl and calling for action to be taken against the country’s problem with sexual violence. So far, seven men have been charged (according to the Independent), but it’s thought by prosecutors in the case that other perpetrators still walk free. 
For a lot of people, this case will have been a stark reminder of the high profile gang rape which took place in South Delhi, India, in 2012. Jyoti Singh, a 23-year-old physiotherapy intern, was travelling on a bus with a male friend late at night when her friend was knocked unconscious and she was beaten and gang-raped by a group of six men, including the driver. Both Singh and her friend were then thrown off the bus and left on the side of the road. The attack resulted in six convictions, an international outcry about the prevalence of gang rape in India – including protests across the country and vigils held after Singh's death, as well as the documentary India’s Daughter, which aired on the BBC in 2015. 

2012 Delhi gang rape Wikipedia

India's Daughter" A Rape Documentary OCTOBER 17, 2015

It is disappointing that it takes an attack this horrific to draw attention to an ongoing issue, but what’s more disappointing is that the attention failed to change much; gang rape remains a critical problem in India. In March this year, a 28-year-old woman was gang raped in front of her three-year-old daughterthe Independent reported. Last month, another woman in India was gang raped by the same group of men who had raped her three years ago ,according to the BBC. And this month, the Indian Express reported the gang rape of a female student in an apartment in Delhi. The attack lasted two days while the woman’s rapists filmed it in order to sell the footage – for which there is a growing black market in the country. 

Woman kidnapped, gang raped in front of daughter 14 agosto 2016

India outrage after gang rape victim assaulted again by same men 19 luglio 2016

Teen gang-raped, filmed, held hostage for 2 days 10 agosto 2016

12 gangraped 35-year-old woman and her 14-year-old daughter 1 agosto 2016

Because the problem of gang rape is so endemic, the charity Equality Now have decided to launch a new campaign raising awareness around what needs to be done to tackle the issue. They are, in part, riding on the back of the publicity driven by the Brazil case, but the stance they take is clear: we cannot wait for more cases of gang rape to happen before we are galvanised to respond. Instead, says Christa Stewart, Sexual Violence Programme Manager at Equality Now, their legal team are looking at the cases that have happened in order to identify where the penal system has failed survivors of gang rape. By doing this, they can then lobby for changes in regional legislation and, with it, attitudes to gang rape, leading to an overall crack down. 

“Equality Now look at cases with the most egregious consequences in order to change laws around sexual violence,” Christa begins over the phone from New York. “First we try to focus on gaps in the initial response to a rape [by law enforcement], because as we know, that sets the trajectory for a victim’s recovery and how society will view the act. This has to do with ensuring there are protocols in place for a victim-centred approach from the very beginning,” she continues. “The biggest global problem is a victim-blaming attitude, and a sense that justice systems need to improve markedly for survivors to feel like they can come forward and achieve justice.” 

Christa gives the example of Morocco, where some societal attitudes deem a woman to be tainted by rape, or diminished in value, meaning that many cases are quietly settled outside of court. Until 2014, a perpetrator of statutory rape could marry the underage woman whom he had attacked and be made exempt. Elsewhere, says Christa, sentencing for rape can be so lenient that you’d hardly think it a severe crime. “In Kenya we’ve seen perpetrators of gang rape sentenced to mow the lawn,” Christa tells me. “If the perpetrator isn’t brought to justice it really reinforces the idea that women don’t have autonomy over their bodies – so we’ve worked on the letter of the law on national and international levels to alter how these sentencing laws are impacting women and girls.” 

Teen burns herself to death after being gang raped by eight men 6 agosto 2016

Although Equality Now always try to place sex crimes in context by working in partnership with organisations and lawyers on the ground in local areas, Christa urges us not to think of lax attitudes towards rape as a remote problem; there was the Canada cop who said a women should avoid dressing to entice rapists back in 2011, and the recent rape in Stanford USA, where the perpetrator received just six months jail time. Gang rapes can take place anywhere, too; in war torn countries, on college campuses, in inner city estates. It’s not a crime exclusive to developing countries, as some stereotypes would have us believe. “Cases seem to be dispersed but really, there’s a prevalence of sexual violence in all societies,” says Christa, “and right now people are becoming conscious of that.” 

Sociologically, it’s thought that gang rape is caused by a number of factors. According to psychologist David Lisak, an expert in sexual and violent crime, speaking in the New York Times on the subject of the Delhi gang rape and gang rape more broadly, one reason is the idea that a woman is culturally worthless or deserves it (see the “victim blaming” Christa talks about.) Another reason is mob mentality – the idea that you are less culpable for a crime if it is committed in numbers, as well as a culture of competitive masculinity, and the notion that “if a man’s sense of efficacy and competence as a man is threatened, it [gang rape] is a way of restoring their masculinity.” In a report published in the Lancet journal (Jewkes et al (2013) “sexual entitlement”, “entertainment” and “a means of punishment” were the main reasons cited by perpetrators of gang rape across Asia.

In India specifically, it seems there is another impetus for gang rape that is on the rise: profiteering. According to the India Times, videos of gang rapes fetch around £1 and last 2-5 minutes. “Porn is passe. These real life crimes are the rage,” a shopkeeper told the paper anonymously. Christa explains that the issues surrounding the videoing of these crimes is complicated; it can be used to blackmail the victim into staying quiet, but also used as evidence against the perpetrators. When footage from the aforementioned rape in Rio was disseminated online, Christa says it allowed prosecutors to establish that the rape had happened, that the victim was unconscious and unable to defend herself. But she points out that the consequences of videoing can be enormous for the survivor of the assault: “Really, it means there’s no end date.” 

Indian campaigner inundated by gang rape videos 14 APRILE 2015

Proliferation of Rape Porn 24 MAGGIO 2015

As it stands, women are being prosecuted in the Arab Emirates for their own gang rapes under convictions spanning illicit sex, alcohol consumption and sex with multiple partners. In Papua New Guinea, where the law enforcement to population ratio is very low, Lancet study found that around one in seven men admitted to having committed gang rape. In India, Singapore, Lebanon Malta and the Bahamas a man is still legally entitled to rape his own wife. Around the world, rape is literally written into the law. If anything is going to change, survivors need to be made to feel like they can report incidents of rape and obtain justice, while perpetrators need to understand that they will face proper jail time if they commit such a crime. 

Meanwhile, Equality Now are chipping away at the issue as they continue to monitor how the Brazil gang rape case is unfolding, making sure that the defence council doesn’t bring up the survivor’s sexual history, for example. "All perpetrators in the Rio case must be arrested and a trial needs to take place which does not further victimise the survivor," says Christa. "We need law enforcement to have regular training on this issue and employ a victim-centred approach in cases of sexual assault. We need first responders to provide forensic examinations carefully and quickly. And we need services for victims to be provided by the government."

If you would like to support Equality Now's campaign, visit the campaign web page here. If you would like to speak to someone about a rape, you can contact the UK charity Rape Crisis.

Sexual violence in Brazil and the inadequate response to it are alarming, with assaults most often aimed at the most vulnerable. 51% of recorded rapes are reportedly committed against girls up to age 13 and nearly 20% are against adolescent girls aged between 14 – 17. Equality Now’s partners inform us that Brazilian victims endure multiple interviews by law enforcement that are insensitive at best and, at worst, as in this case, outright hostile. There have been attempts in the Brazilian parliament to eliminate access to any reproductive care for women, even those who have been raped. While Brazilian women already face severe restrictions in accessing reproductive care, there have always been legal exemptions based on rape. These new attempts to curtail women’s rights are therefore alarming. As it is, access to legal abortion is not always available for victims of sexual violence.  Brazil only has 37 health centers that provide the service for more than 5,000 cities. As these centers are concentrated in the bigger urban areas, thousands of women and girls have no resources at all.  
The solutions to protect victims and ensure justice universally are clear:
  1. Perpetrators must be arrested and charged to the full extent of the law.
  2. Law enforcement must have regular training and employ a victim-sensitive approach in sexual assault cases. 
  3. First responders must provide forensic examinations without undue delay or procedural barriers.
  4. Governments must increase services to assist victims through the criminal justice process, so that they are not left to fend for themselves.

Brazil, enforce your sexual violence laws


Brutal Gang Rape in Brazil Triggers Fury from Civil Society 29 maggio 2016

Reports Of Brutal Rape In India, Brazil Ignite National Debate 31 maggio 2016

Abused by My Father and Raped by My Stepfather 12 agosto 2016

Brazil, one rape every 11 minutes 1 giugno 2016

Rape Epidemic in Mexico City 29 maggio 2016

Another Woman in India Gangraped on a Bus by 7 Men 17 GENNAIO 2013

Woman gang raped, murdered inside bus 7 agosto 2016

Two minors brutally gang-raped in Delhi 17 OTTOBRE 2015

4-year-old girl brutally gang-raped in Delhi 12 OTTOBRE 2015

Pakistani teen gang-raped by two policemen self-immolates 15 OTTOBRE 2015

12 teens gang rape, murder 14-year-old schoolgirl 14 maggio 2016

13-year-old girl brutally gang raped and dumped near a railway track 26 maggio 2016

Twenty-Five-Year-Old Woman Gang-Raped in South Delhi 19 giugno 2016

Month after gangrape, girl kills self in Delhi 21 giugno 2016

21-yr-old, 10-yr-old gang-raped in Motihari 24 giugno 2016

2 minor girls gang-raped by two brothers 26 giugno 2016

14-year-old set on fire after being gang-raped 26 giugno 2016

Two Dalit women gang-raped by 10 men 1 luglio 2016

Deaf-dumb woman gang-raped 17 luglio 2016

Israeli woman gang-raped in Indian tourist town 25 luglio 2016

Tribal minor girl gang-raped, murdered 25 luglio 2016

16-year-old girl gang-raped, murdered 1 agosto 2016

19-year-old married woman gang-raped 17 luglio 2016

Two minor sisters kidnapped and gang-raped 17 luglio 2016

Three men gang rape, film teenager 17 luglio 2016

Woman, 3 daughters gang-raped in Ongata Rongai 17 agosto 2016

25-year-old dancer gangraped by 4 company executives 16 agosto 2016

Five men abducted, gangraped two women in Kota 16 agosto 2016

Girl abducted and gangraped for over a month 15 agosto 2016

Social media ‘female’ friend, two others gang rape model 12 agosto 2016

Woman kidnapped, gang raped in front of daughter 14 agosto 2016

Orphan girl gang-raped in Agra 13 agosto 2016

12-Year-Old Gang-Raped, Murdered in Uttar Pradesh 10 agosto 2016

In Another UP Horror, Teacher Allegedly Gang-Raped At Gunpoint Near Highway August 03, 2016

Gang rape survivor abused by Palghar police for 3 days 16 agosto 2016

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