A Brazilian 16-year-old girl whose rape at the hands of 33 men surfaced in a Facebook video last week says she is receiving death threats for seeking police help, even as the Rio de Janeiro police chief himself refused to believe her story.
The girl, who has not been identified, tells Brazil’s Globo media she went to a dance party on Saturday, May 21, and woke up with “a man under me, a man on top of me, and two holding me down.” She remembers little, did not recognize the location of her rape, and only knew the next day about the video that had made its way around Facebook.
The video, and accompanying photos of her injured genitals, were uploaded to Facebook by a man authorities are treating as one of the rapists. The man states in the video that 33 men are involved in the rape, and describes the abuse of the girl’s genital area as “kneading dough.” The content of the video, according to police, matches the girl’s testimony of what she heard when she woke up among the men: “laughing, calling me a slut. I thought I was going to die.”
She says the rape only concluded when a man, apparently a friend of the group’s, came in and told them that was enough. The girl insists she must have been drugged at the party she attended to be taken against her will to the “abandoned home” where the rape took place.
In the interview, she describes frustration with the harassment she continues to receive after the incident. “I had 900,000 messages on Facebook,” she says, “people from Minas Gerais saying they would kill me. They said, if I go into a certain community, I would die.”
The indignity continued as she filed her police report. “The police chief himself questioned my story,” she says, noting that police asked her if she had engaged in group sex in the past, “looking to fault me in any way.”
Police have since released a public statement confirming a rape occurred “without a doubt,” citing both evidence and the girl’s testimony of suffering intense pains “in the womb.” Rio de Janeiro law enforcement suspect the men were part of a local drug trafficking syndicate, and have arrested six men so far. They believe the men involved in the crime are between the ages of 18 and 41.
The victim – and her mother and grandmother – watched the video. Asked by Globo if she wished anything upon her aggressors, she replied: “a daughter.”
Globo has identified two of the men arrested as Lucas Perdomo Duarte, the man romantically tied to the victim, who is believed to have drugged her and taken her to the rape site, and Raí de Souza, the man whose phone was used to film the incident. He does not deny it was his phone that recorded the incident, but he claims to have had minimal involvement in the rape. “I did not say anything, just laughed. So much so that my voice is not in the video. My only laughter of mine is at the end,” he alleges. He also claims the victim spoke to him days later, when she returned to the neighborhood to retrieve her phone.
“I asked if she had seen the video, she said yes, but she was quiet. She was just crying about her phone that her mother was still paying,” de Souza claims. His sister has explicitly blamed the victim for the crime: “She was at the dance doing drugs and wanted it. It is not the first time,” she told O Globo.
The night of the rape, a 17-year-old and a 15-year-old were abducted and gang raped by five men. On Sunday, May 29, a man abducted and raped a 12-year-old girl in an area of Sao Paulo that has seen a 44 percent increase in rape cases in 2016.
The Brazilian government is trying to curb the rise in rape cases before thousands of tourists descend on Rio de Janeiro for the 2016 Summer Olympics, already profoundly concerned by the nation’s political turmoil and the ongoing Zika virus epidemic. Brazilian Minister of Justice Alexandre de Moraes organized a meeting of the secretaries of Public Security of the nation’s states on Tuesday, seeking to develop a comprehensive campaign to punish rapists and deter potential criminals.