This recent case that illustrates the sexual harassment women face online is especially gut-wrenching. Valentina Schulz is one of more than a dozen tweens competing on the Brazilian version of the MasterChef Junior cooking competition TV show. After a recent episode featuring the 12-year-old chef-in-training, sexual and downright appalling tweets about the contestant began appearing under the show's official hashtag. "If she wants it, it's not pedophilia, IT'S LOVE," one tweet quoted by the BBC read. A journalist and activist in Brazil took note, and started sharing stories of harassment she had faced as girl using the hashtag #PrimeiroAssedio, or "first harassment." Juliana de Faria, who is affiliated with the feminist group Think Olga, told the BBC that after other women chimed in with their own experiences, she started to retweet those stories from the account for the feminist group. The hashtag has now been used more than 90,000 times, according to the BBC. The stories that follow are heartbreaking:
"I was 11. A friend’s grandfather. Leers, hands on thigh, and fear. Avoided him for 15 days, insisting it was just my imagination."
"When I was 11 years old, my father's friend said in front of him that he would like to marry me."
"8 years old, my cousin put my hand down his pants and then made me get on top of him."
"12 years old, the husband of my aunt pulled me on top of him and touched my breasts."
"8 years old. The choir teacher at church asked us over for a lesson at his house. Me and a friend. He led us to the basement and told us to take our clothes off."
"I was in the car with my friend's father when he just threw out the following: 'Have you already masturbated?'" Refinery29 has reached out to the Brazilian TV network behind the show for comment. Sexual harassment and violence against women are issues everywhere, but the problem is especially pervasive in Brazil, activists say. On average, 15 Brazilian women a day are killed solely because of their gender, according to statistics cited by the country's president, Dilma Rousseff. As Refinery29 reported last month, some women there are using street art to take a stand. Read and watch more about that trend here.