IPEA

Anadolu Agency

SÃO PAULO – A viral social media campaign against rape and sexual harassment that spawned nationwide protests in Brazil is giving Brazil’s feminists fresh support, which they intend to use to change the way Brazil’s schoolchildren are taught women’s rights.

The surge in support was sparked by the shocking findings of a study published on 27 March by the Institute of Applied Economic Research (IPEA) on the attitudes of Brazilians towards sexual harassment and rape.

The research found 65% of the 3,810 people surveyed agreed, partly or completely, with the statement: “Women who used clothes that show off their body deserve to be attacked.”

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A Brazilian journalist who organised an online protest voicing dismay at the results of a study on the attitudes of Brazilians towards rape and violence against women has received numerous messages from men threatening to rape her.

Nana Queiroz, 28, received the threats after her online protest Eu Não Mereço Ser Estuprada (“I don’t deserve to be raped”) went viral on Friday 29 March.

On Thursday a study by the IPEA revealed the attitudes of over 3,800 Brazilians across Brazil towards sexual harassment, rape and violence against women.

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Dilma tweets on violence against women.

President Dilma Rousseff vows ‘zero tolerance’ to violence against women, after a study showed many Brazilians still blame over 527,000 annual rapes on the victims’ dress sense and behaviour.

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff called for “zero tolerance” to violence against women on Friday after a study revealed that some 65% of Brazilians believe women “deserve to be [sexually] attacked” if they dress in a revealing way.

Rousseff made the comments after a study by the Institute of Applied Economic Research (IPEA) was released on Thursday.

In the study survey carried out in mid-2013, 3,810 people – two-thirds of whom women – were asked their opinion on a number of statements concerning harassment and violence against women.

To the statement “Women who used clothes that show off their body deserve to be attacked”, some 65.1% responded that they agreed totally or in part.

Some 58.5% also said they were in complete or partial agreement with the statement “If women knew how to behave, there would be fewer rapes”.

President Rousseff took to Twitter on Friday to say that Brazil as a society had “a long way to go on combatting violence against women”:

“The result clearly shows the burden of the laws and public policy in fighting violence against women. It also shows the government and society must work together to face down violence against women, both in and outside our homes.”

Ending a sequence of messages on her official Twitter account, the president called for “zero tolerance” towards the violence.

UPDATE: On the same day as President Rousseff’s comments, news of an online anti-rape protest hit Facebook and spread like wild fire, with the hashtag #nãomereçoserestuprada – or “I don’t deserve to be raped” and thousands of people showing their solidarity.

The study produced a complex and contradictory picture of attitudes in Brazil towards violence against women: over four-fifths of respondents agreed to some extent that “what happened between a couple in their home should not concern others”.

However, more than nine-in-ten believed that a man who beats his spouse should go to prison.

527,000 sexual assaults a year

The IPEA study concluded that Brazilian society still accepts a status quo where men rule over women but not if it extends to physical violence.

But with regard to sexual violence, most people still consider women to be responsible for such behavior if they wear provocative clothing or behave inappropriately, the study found.

A second IPEA study estimated that Brazil sees around 527,000 sexual assaults or rapes annually, but that only 10% of these cases are reported to police.

Carmita Abdo, coordinator of the Sexuality Studies program at the University of São Paulo (USP), said she was not surprised by the results, which show society still blames the victim for such cases of abuse.

“What leads to sexual harassment or rape is not the clothes that women wear but people who want to harass or rape,” she told Folha de S.Paulo newspaper.

Protests denouncing violence against women have been slowly garnering support in Brazil over the past decade, featuring in and amongst the array of grievances voiced by anti-government and anti-World Cup protests seen in the country since last June.

The global SlutWalk movement, which condemns those who believe a woman is at fault for rape because of the way she chooses to dress, has also had a presence in Brazil since 2011.

Extended version of report written for Anadolu Agency