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Brazil Registers Ten Gang Rapes per Day; Figure Doubles in Five Years

08/21/2017 - 11h21

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CLÁUDIA COLLUCCI
FROM SÃO PAULO

In Uruçuí (in the south of the Brazilian state of Piauí) a 15-year-old pregnant teenager was raped by three teenagers and her boyfriend was killed in front of her.

Taken from her home in Presidente Epitácio, in the countryside of São Paulo, a 48-year-old woman was raped by four men. They were neighbors.

In five years, the number of gang rapes more than doubled - the cases are registered by the hospitals that provide medical care to the victims.

New data of the country's Ministry of Health Care to which Folha had access show that the cases registered increased from 1,570 in 2011 to 3,526 in 2016. These data show that there are on average ten gang rapes per day in the country.

These numbers are the first to capture the growth of this type of violence in Brazil. At police stations, the files of rapes committed by more than one offender are not registered separately from other cases of rape.

In 2011, data on sexual violence became mandatory registration by public and private health care institutions and they are grouped in an information system of the ministry, the Sinan.

The states of Acre and Tocantins and the Federal District lead the ranking of gang rapes per 100,000 inhabitants - with 4.41, 4.31 and 4.23, respectively. This type of crime represents today 15% of the cases of rape treated by hospitals - a total of 22,804 in 2016.

The health care system figures, however, represent only a part of the total cases. First, because historically sexual violence has been underreported and not all victims go to the hospital or contact the police; also because 30% of Brazilian cities have not begun to provide data to Sinan yet.

"Unfortunately, this is only the tip of the iceberg. Sexual violence against women is an invisible crime; there is a taboo behind this lack of data. Many women who are raped never report the crime. Sometimes they do not even tell their relatives at home because there is a culture of blaming women although they are the victims," says Daniel Cerqueira, a researcher at Brazil's Institute for Applied Economic Research (Ipea).

UNDERREPORTED

Studies by the Ipea show that only 10% of the total number of rapes in the country is reported. Considering that 50,000 cases are registered every year (at police stations and hospitals), the country could have 450,000 "hidden" cases.

Sociologist Wânia Pasinato, an advisor to USP Mulheres, says the Health Care system's data on gang rapes show that the problem has existed for a long time, but it surfaced only recently after the cases were widely reported by the national press.

Another fact that has drawn attention is that some of the cases of gang rape are recorded and images of the crime are disclosed. Folha surveyed 51 cases in the press in the last three years. In at least 14, videos were disclosed on social networks.

Translated by THOMAS MUELLO

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