Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Machismo: Brazilian-Style

I'm not sure why a 15-year-old girl arrested on suspicion of petty theft would be held in jail for 26 days. That seems excessive to me. Or why they would have put her in a jail with men. Or why they would allow her to be raped and tortured continuously while being held, basically treated like a sex toy for their pleasure.

Oh, and they didn't just allow it.
The police in the jail did more than turn their backs on the violence. They shaved her head with a knife to make her look more like a boy, investigators said, and now are blaming her for lying about her age.

Because if she did lie about her age and was 19, shall we say, then the rape and torture resulting from her being put in a jail with men in the first place would have been more justifiable? I'm just curious.
Ana Júlia Carepa, the governor of Para, has been scrambling to clean up the mess since the situation became public late last month. Ms. Carepa pressed Raimundo Benassuly, the state police chief, to resign the day after he said publicly that the girl had lied about her age because she had a “mental deficiency.” The police have said that the girl had claimed she was 19, not 15, during several run-ins with the law.

Ms. Soares said that officials, including the judge in the case, a woman, did not press the girl for documentation proving she was an adult, even though she is under five feet tall and weighs about 80 pounds. “When I first saw her I thought she was 12, not 15,” Ms. Soares said.

For Ms. Carepa, the girl’s age is beside the point. “If she is 15, 20, 50, 80 years old or almost 100, it doesn’t matter,” she told journalists in Rio last month. “A woman cannot be in a cell with men.”

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.

“Several officials were aware of what was happening, and at worst they were complicit in it,” Ms. Soares said. “It’s a very serious situation.”

This is just mind-boggling.

If the above link doesn't open, here's an alternative link to the story.

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