Statistics show that sexual violence against women is very prevalent in Brazil, but it tends to escape media attention unless it involves a grisly incident or a victimized tourist. It remains alarmingly underreported and easily displaced by other news, such as the upcoming (and sacrosanct) World Cup or clashes between gangs and the police in the favelas of Rio.
But a study conducted by the Institute for Applied Economic Research (IPEA), in partnership with U.N. Women’s Brazil branch, reveals public attitudes toward rape that are more disturbing than indifference. Published in late March, it initially reported that 65.1 percent of Brazilians believed that women who dressed in revealing clothes deserved to be raped. Shockingly, of those surveyed, 65 percent were women. (The survey was conducted with a reflective sample of 3,810 Brazilians across 212 cities between May and June 2013.)
The study’s findings created a stir across social media. Journalist Nana Queiroz started a hashtag campaign: #NãoMereçoSerEstuprada (“I don’t deserve to be raped”). She subsequently received rape threats. Meanwhile, perhaps shortsightedly, some expressed dismay that such statistics would soil Brazil’s reputation in advance of the World Cup.