The reported gang rape of a 16-year-old girl by more than 30 men in Rio de Janeiro has sparked protests in the country — and condemnation by an official of the local archdiocese who met with the victim, and who called it “a brutal, inhuman act.”
On May 21, the girl went to her boyfriend's house and says she woke up the next day, drugged and naked, in another house, surrounded by some 30 men with weapons.
A brief video of the gang rape was shared on social media, and was met with some misogynistic comments blaming the victim.
Maria Christina de Sá is an official of the youth ministry office of the Archdiocese of S√£o Sebasti√£o do Rio de Janeiro, who met with the girl and her family in a private encounter.
“I saw a youth with a calm face, though in anguish through so many interviews and questions, and very upset by what has happened — by the attack and by the accusations she has suffered,” Maria Christina told CNA May 31.
She said the attack “affects not only women, but deserves repudiation by all of us.”
In her meeting with the girl, Maria Christina says she had “a wonderful impression of her, as a young woman of surpassing sweetness, but who also expressed great suffering for the attacks she suffered.”
The girl's family “is also very upset,” she added. “Her father cries non-stop over everything that happened to his daughter, as does her mother.”
The accusations against the victim — that she dressed scandalously, “deserved it,” consented, or was using drugs — were roundly condemned by the archdiocese's youth ministry official.
“It seems that no one looks at the situation as something dramatic that could happen to anyone, and are rather judging her,” Maria Christina said.
She pointed out that what is at issue is the atrocious act of sexual violence committed against a 16-year-old girl.
“In a situation like this, we should ask ourselves: how would Jesus Christ behave? Look at the woman caught in adultery: he did not say, 'I condemn you.' On the contrary, he said: 'Has no one condemned you? Neither do I condemn you; go, and do not sin again.'”
After having provided the support and solidarity of the youth ministry office, Maria Christina said that the victim is being cared for by Brazil's federal office for protection of children and adolescents, and that with her family, she is being moved from state of Rio de Janeiro because she fears for her life.
Michel Temer, the acting president of Brazil, has committed to forming a federal police force to deal with violence against women.
Warrents have been issued for the arrest of more than 30 suspects, including the girl's boyfriend.
Brazilian cities have been hit by protests demanding an end to sexual violence and the country's rape culture. Online protests have also taken place, using the hashtag #EstuproNuncaMais (RapeNeverAgain).
One Brazilian Facebook user posted an image of the Virgin Mary embracing a young girl, with the caption “Child, I cried for you this morning.” The photo has since gone viral.
CNA contacted the office of Cardinal Orani Tempesta of S√£o Sebasti√£o do Rio de Janeiro, which said the archbishop would not comment on the case at that time, but reiterated the Church's absolute repudiation of all acts of violence committed against women.
The Brazilian bishops' conference also declined to comment.
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