Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Brazilian Jail Rape Victim Highlights Larger Issue of Violence Against Women

Brazil has a reputation for its violence, much of it caused by huge wealth disparities and poor public planning contributing to the growth of favela culture. The highly publicized rape of a 15 year old girl in jail, has brought attention to the troubled penal system in the Southern Cone nation, but in a much less obvious way, has also called attention to growing violence against women, especially poor women.

The 15 year old girl, arrested on suspicion of petty theft , was placed among 34 male inmates and for almost a month was tortured and raped by them. According to an article in today's New York Times, authorities didn't try and stop the abuse, instead they tried to cover their asses, shaving the girl's head to make her look more like a male and then saying that the girl lied about her age (as if an 18 year old, legal adult woman deserved to be in that position).

By law men and women (who make up about 5 percent of the prison population) should be separated but that's just not happening. This could be interpreted of a lack of caring about the quality of life of women, especially those already at the margins.
What has been particularly disheartening to federal human rights officials in the case of the 15-year-old girl is how many people had the chance to protect her. Ms. Soares, the lawyer, said the police, the judge and a public defender who had visited the jail all knew the teenager was in an all-male setting.
The jail is set to be torn down and replaced with a women's facility.

Story and Image Source : The New York Times


redwood said...

wow, a clear voice, though one that smacks a little heterosexist, no, Maegan?

(Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure that there’s something very special about your body.)

But I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that on any given day more males are raped in confinement (or otherwise battered out of a gender-informed hatred) than all the female victims in America.

Of course no one should be raped.

But there’s no reason to exploit this horror to privilege female bodies and ignore--as you do--male victims.

enough is enough. period!

Anonymous said...

This story makes me mad as hell. I need to figure out how I can help. It's hard because I'm in the U.S. I've got to do something. We all do.
We need more compassion in this world, even for prisoners. In jail, you lose your freedom, but you should never lose your human rights.

Azadeh said...

If you want to help, you can start here in the US. There are about 200 transgender prisoners in California's mens prisons: many of them who have been taking hormones for years and have fully developed breasts. They experience very similar treatment, they are sexually abused and harassed by prisoners and prison staff alike. No measures are taken to ensure their safety and they are often punished with administrative segregation (isolation) for reporting abuse; there was one case a few years ago in which a transwoman was held captive in a cell for fourteen days and repeatedly gangraped by over 60 men; she had been "sold" to prisoners by prison guards who facilitated the abuse in exchange for money.

So if you want to do something, I would suggest contacting organizations like the transgender/gender variant/intersex justice project (TGIJP) and lending your support to drawing public attention to these human rights abuses.