Earlier this year, in May, a 16-year-old girl was gang raped in an abandoned building in Rio de Janeiro. Following the rape, graphic material of the incident was circulated online, including pictures and video footage of the girl lying unconscious. Outraged, Brazilians took to the streets of Copacabana in Rio and marched on Brazilia’s Supreme Court, demanding justice for the girl and calling for action to be taken against the country’s problem with sexual violence. So far, seven men have been charged (according to the Independent
), but it’s thought by prosecutors in the case that other perpetrators still walk free.
For a lot of people, this case will have been a stark reminder of the high profile gang rape which took place in South Delhi, India, in 2012. Jyoti Singh, a 23-year-old physiotherapy intern, was travelling on a bus with a male friend late at night when her friend was knocked unconscious and she was beaten and gang-raped by a group of six men, including the driver. Both Singh and her friend were then thrown off the bus and left on the side of the road. The attack resulted in six convictions, an international outcry about the prevalence of gang rape in India – including protests across the country and vigils
held after Singh's death, as well as the documentary India’s Daughter
, which aired on the BBC in 2015.
It is disappointing that it takes an attack this horrific to draw attention to an ongoing issue, but what’s more disappointing is that the attention failed to change much; gang rape remains a critical problem in India. In March this year, a 28-year-old woman was gang raped in front of her three-year-old daughter, the Independent reported
. Last month, another woman in India was gang raped by the same group of men who had raped her three years ago, according to the BBC
. And this month, the Indian Express reported
the gang rape of a female student in an apartment in Delhi. The attack lasted two days while the woman’s rapists filmed it in order to sell the footage – for which there is a growing black market in the country.
Because the problem of gang rape is so endemic, the charity Equality Now have decided to launch a new campaign
raising awareness around what needs to be done to tackle the issue. They are, in part, riding on the back of the publicity driven by the Brazil case, but the stance they take is clear: we cannot wait for more cases of gang rape to happen before we are galvanised to respond. Instead, says Christa Stewart, Sexual Violence Programme Manager at Equality Now, their legal team are looking at the cases that have
happened in order to identify where the penal system has failed survivors of gang rape. By doing this, they can then lobby for changes in regional legislation and, with it, attitudes to gang rape, leading to an overall crack down.