Brazilian Prisoner Raped by Her Cell Mates for a Month

Let me just say that there’s absolutely no way to kick off 16 days of blogging about gender violence lightly or gently. I did, however, hope that I wouldn’t have to begin with something as horrific as this. But that’s what this is about: waking up and telling the nasty truth that no one wants to hear. So here we go.

A woman in Brazil has alleged that she was left in a police cell for almost a month with 20-30 men. I don’t think that it takes a huge leap of logic to guess what happened while she was there.

Authorities in Brazil are investigating reports that a young woman was left in a police cell with some 20 men for a month and repeatedly sexually abused.

The governor of the state of Para, where the reported case took place, has promised a full inquiry. [. . .]

Women’s rights groups in Brazil say it is not an isolated case.

According to reports in the Brazilian media, the number of men in the cell with the young woman ranged between 20 and more than 30.

Media reports suggested that the girl was placed in a police cell in the town of Abaetetuba on suspicion of theft.

But human-rights groups say there is uncertainty about what offence the girl was accused of and she was not formally charged.

They say that she was raped relentlessly and forced to have sex in order to obtain food.

This is not a “mistake,” or a “fluke,” or a “bad judgment call.” If there is a set of rules for holding prisoners in jail, segregating by sex should be at the top of the list. It’s also impossible that the authorities could not have known what was happening in that cell. A woman who has been repeatedly raped and kept in a jail cell looks like she has been repeatedly raped and kept in a jail cell. Another article from the BBC reports that she was covered in cigarette burns. Not to mention the fact that such cells are, or should be, closely monitored.

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that such a set up would be potentially the most ideal microcosm possible for gang rape. The articles also state that she was forced to offer sex for food (read: was raped and then potentially given the chance to eat). Who she “offered sex” to in those situations is not clear. Was it her fellow prisoners? If so, who the fuck was distributing the food? I’m in no way ruling this scenario out as a possibility, but let’s just say that I wouldn’t be shocked to find out that those who were raping her before giving her a chance to eat were the police officers themselves.

Regardless of the specifics, the police at that station are directly responsible for not only condoning, but promoting gang rape.

To add insult to injury, the police’s excuse is that they thought the girl was not a minor. Reports on her age are unclear — she has been placed between 15 and 20. But the idea that you would first treat a prisoner as though she were an adult until it’s proven that she’s not is absurd. That they think it’s okay to put women in police cells with men as long as they’re adults is just incomprehensible.

I can say with some relief that Pera State Governor Carepa seems to be taking the allegations very seriously. She has launched an investigation, condemned the police’s actions and denounced their excuses for them. Carepa seems to have decided that she believes the victim, and sided with her. I think that this shows some character (compare to government reactions to allegations of what happens at Guantanamo, at Abu Ghraib, and even at domestic prisons). But words are not enough. And the fact that this happened on Carepa’s watch is something that she needs to be held accountable for. It will be interesting to see what concrete steps she takes to ensure female safety and if she will indeed prove her sincerity.

Until then, my thoughts are with the survivor, and I commend her courage for going public with the story. Though few other cases of this type of abuse have been officially reported, not to mention received media attention, Amnesty International has reported that this case is far from isolated. And that’s something we need to know.

0 thoughts on “Brazilian Prisoner Raped by Her Cell Mates for a Month

  1. Ran

    That story is so horrifying.

    And it’s sad that rape in American prisons is so universally accepted and unremarked-upon that news-media won’t even mention the topic until the victim is a young Brazilian woman.

    Reply
  2. rich

    Do you mean rape in men’s prisons or women’s prisons are unremarked upon in America, or both?

    And yeah, I don’t really have a comment on the story, it’s just flat out horrifying, though I am definitely glad that she came forward and the governor is backing her.

    Reply
  3. Cara Post author

    I don’t know what Ran was trying to say, but I would definitely say both. It’s well-known but joked about that men are raped by other men while in prison. It’s pretty much completely unacknowledged that women in prison are regularly sexually assaulted both by guards and other female inmates.

    Reply
  4. rich

    Yeah I would agree with you that it is both; my first reaction was thinking about how rape in men’s prisons is basically a punchline (dropping the soap, etc.).

    I don’t know much about women’s prisons; I wonder if they hire predominantly female guards in female prisons, or whether men are mostly employed here as well, which would make for a pretty lopsided and terrible power dynamic.

    Reply
  5. Fatadelic

    The articles also state that she was forced to offer sex for food (read: was raped and then potentially given the chance to eat). Who she “offered sex” to in those situations is not clear. Was it her fellow prisoners? If so, who the fuck was distributing the food? I’m in no way ruling this scenario out as a possibility, but let’s just say that I wouldn’t be shocked to find out that those who were raping her before giving her a chance to eat were the police officers themselves.

    Thanks for making this point. The way the repeated and ongoing rapes were reported in multiple news sources as “having sex for food” really bugged me. It should be called what it is – cold-blooded rape – rather than implying some sort of consent or prostitution was involved.

    Reply
  6. Ran

    Yes, I meant both. (And I honestly don’t know which is worse: that the rape of men is a punchline, or that the rape of women isn’t even a blip on the radar here.)

    Reply
  7. jovan byars

    Wow. Totally horrific.

    You all have great points. It is pretty sad that women prisoners are raped by just about everybody here in the states and it doesn’t even get press coverage. Male prisoners are raped by other male prisoners and female guards and it is treated as a joke. In fact, all rape of men (whether it is by other men or by women) is laughed upon by our pathetic society.

    With all of that said, I hope that the Brazilian authorities charge the thirty male prisoners, all of the police, and all of the guards at that station with aggravated sexual assault. And I agree with you Cara, I don’t know why men and women are in the same jail cell in Brazil. Putting men and women in the same jail cell just basically set up a gang rape situation. That is why I like the US jailing system, although it should be tweaked so that prisoners and guards are all of the same gender.

    I’ll say it one more time for those in Brazil: she was a victim of cold-blooded gang rape.

    Reply
  8. Cara

    And I agree with you Cara, I don’t know why men and women are in the same jail cell in Brazil. Putting men and women in the same jail cell just basically set up a gang rape situation. That is why I like the US jailing system, although it should be tweaked so that prisoners and guards are all of the same gender.

    The impression that I have gotten from the governor’s statements is that cells are not supposed to be coed. Ever. I don’t think that this is a Brazilian law problem so much as it’s an enforcement of police regulations problem.

    Reply
  9. BettyBoondoggle

    “The impression that I have gotten from the governor’s statements is that cells are not supposed to be coed. ”

    Right, they’re not. But I’ve heard from several sources now that this girl was either arrested or put in the cell specifically for the sexual pleasure of the male inmates. Apparently, men do think rape is a sexual pleasure.

    Just in case this story didn’t make any one angry enough.

    Reply
  10. john

    I have to ask for a clarification from BettyBoondoggle on:

    Apparently, men do think rape is a sexual pleasure.

    Do you mean “These men” or “Some men” or even “Some people” (women rape too you know)

    Because I, as a man, would otherwise take great offense at a statement that condones violence against men (per the point of view in the “This promotes rape” thread — I would have to assume that this was just an oversight by the moderator. Otherwise by not editing it you encourage those people who would assault all men, based on the thought that all men enjoy rape.)

    I wonder if any of the male prisoners chose not to participate in the EVIL? I also think that if any of the guards turned a blind eye to it they should still be held equally accountable.

    It is an ugly, imperfect world – in light of that, pending the outcome of an unbiased (is it possible?) jury they should all be publically hanged.

    Reply
  11. BettyBoondoggle

    “Apparently, men do think rape is a sexual pleasure.

    Do you mean “These men” or “Some men” or even “Some people” (women rape too you know)”

    Yes, women do commit rape. That is, however, NOT the topic at hand, is it.

    And, I didn’t think it needed qualifying, however, I meant these men involved in this story.

    As for sources I orginally read it on Feministing. I failed to bookmark additional sources. Apologies.

    Reply

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