[All links lead to Portuguese language pages, except when otherwise noted.]
Despite nine members of the ‘pagode’ [en] boy band New Hit being indicted for the gang rape of two sixteen-year-old girls, the group has continued with its national tour regardless. Meanwhile, the victims have become virtual prisoners under the protection of the Program to Protect Children and Adolescents Under Threat of Death (PPCAAM) following threats made by the band's family and fans.
The Public Ministry [en] of the federal state of Bahia has prosecuted the group's crime along with the complicity of a police officer for his part in covering up the episode. The case took place on August 26, 2012, in the Brazilian Northern town of Ruy Barbosa [en]. In October last year, the band were released from jail after 38 days following the court granting them habeas corpus rights.
The trial began in February this year and was postponed until September due to the non-attendance of two defence witnesses. The defendants pleaded a case of consensual sex at the first hearing, while the victims focused on describing the manner in which the violence was committed. The girls’ testimony was corroborated by medical evidence authenticating that rape had taken place as well as the testimony of the police who first assisted them straight after the event. Brazil is now a country torn in two as protests are mounted both for and against the group.
The website Portal Pagodão comments that the band's shows have attracted more than 10,000 over the past few days:
Apesar de toda a polêmica envolvendo a banda num caso de estupro, os meninos da New Hit, provaram que ainda tem grande reconhecimento do público por onde passa, como em shows nas cidades de Teresina (PI), Caxias (MA) e Timon(MA) no último final de semana. [13-14 de abril]
Despite all the controversy surrounding the band's involvement in a rape case, the boys of New Hit have shown they can still pull in the crowds wherever they go, with gigs in places like the city of Teresina [en] and the and the towns of Caxias [en] and Timon [en] last weekend. [April 13-14]
Meanwhile, the Facebook page New Hit-Acreditamos na INOCÊNCIA deles [New Hit – We believe in their innocence] has more than 900 followers. Its sister page Fc New Hit Fo Rever posted the following comment this month:
Eu choro! Choro de felicidade Ao saber que estar tudo voltando ao normal , Choro de felicidade , emoção , ao saber que a agenda dos meninos está linda e maravilhosa , com grandes show's pra fazer!… é incrivél como depois de todo esse acontecido eles continua com esses sorrisos lindos no rosto… Mais quando Deus quer é assim , e a justiça ta sendo feita …. Porque a justiça de Deus nunca falhará ♫♪
I'm crying! Sobbing with tears of joy – knowing that everything's getting back to normal , Sobbing with joy, excitement, safe in the knowledge that the boys are getting on with their lives in such a beautiful and wonderful way, with so many mega shows still to perform!… It's amazing that after all that's happened, they can still carry on with such beautiful smiles on their faces… But when God wills it so, so it is, and justice will be done…. Because God's justice can never fail ♫ ♪
On the flipside, the Facebook page Repúdio ao New Hit: Acusados de Estupro [pt] [Disown New Hit: Rapists On Trial] has almost 7,000 followers and constantly posts anti-band and pro-victim comments. The page encourages people to speak out and stick up posters in the cities where the band is touring.
Culture of Rape
Mulher paga meia e ainda ganha um estupro coletivo de graça! Que promoção hein, Espaço Aberto! Suas filhas, mulheres, amigas também vão participar dessa super promoção???
Women get in half price and can still get gang-raped for free! What a deal, eh, Espaço Aberto!(venue's name)? Your daughters, wives and girlfriends can still get this special offer!!!
Vívian Andrade Martins says:
Bonito, heim? Patrocinando banda de estupradores… bonito.
Até onde o dinheiro pode levar vocês? Qual é o próximo passo? Patrocinar banda de pedófilos?
Lovely, eh? Sponsoring a band of rapists… lovely. Where will money go to next? What's the next move? Sponsoring a band of paedophiles?
In March this year, the band gave shows in Fortaleza, the capital of the federal state of Ceará [en], that were marred by protests. The feminist blog Marchamulheres by Marcha Mundial das Mulheres [Women's Worldwide March] analysed the issues as follows:
Enquanto os acusados fazem shows pelo Brasil afora, as duas adolescentes, que, além de terem sofrido violência sexual, foram ameaçadas de morte, encontram-se afastadas do convívio social e com suas liberdades cerceadas. Isso é inadmissível, pois retira a condição de vítima das adolescentes culpabilizando-as pela violência sofrida, já que os acusados estão em liberdade.
O caso New Hit traz à tona um debate importante: a incorporação da “cultura do estupro”, ou seja, quando há um incentivo ao crime e à culpabilização da vítima através de músicas, peças publicitárias, novelas, piadas humorísticas etc. O show, que vai acontecer [ocorreu] no dia 31 de março, a barraca Master Beach, na Praia do Futuro, em Fortaleza, é um exemplo objetivo dessa cultura.
While the defendants continue to tour throughout Brazil, the two teenagers, who, besides having suffered sexual violence have been threatened with death, find themselves removed from society and their freedoms curtailed. This is unacceptable, because it takes away the teenagers’ victimhood and blames them instead for the violence they have suffered; meanwhile the accused roam free.
The New Hit case raises a critical issue: the incorporation of “rape culture” – when crime is incentivised and victims are blamed through songs, advertisements, soap operas, crass jokes etc. The show which is due to be performed [was performed] on 31 March at the Master Beach venue in Praia do Futuro in Fortaleza is a paradigm example of this culture.
Letter of thanks
Due to public pressure, particularly from social networks, some shows have been cancelled. The band halted their shows in cities like Salvador [en] on 21 October last year, Aracaju [en], Maceió [en] and in the town of Serrinha [en] in January this year, the latter seeing protests led by the Women's Movement of Serrinha. Another concert on April 30 in the town of Nilo Peçanha, in the federal state of Bahia, would also be cancelled according to a representative of the federal state of Bahia, Luiza Maia and the Urban Planning Secretary of Nilo Peçanha, Carlos Azevedo. The band's management, however, has denied they were contracted to play this show.
Other forms of protest against New Hit organised by the Marcha Mundial da Mulheres group from their base in Bahia includes the “escracho” (escrache) [en] outside the summer home of the band's vocalist, Eduardo Martins, in October last year. The group also went to the city of Ruy Barbosa during the hearing in February this year. The two teenage victims sent this letter in recognition of the support they have received from the feminist activists from the group Negra Zeferina (black woman Zeferina), the Repúdio ao New Hit: Acusados de Estupro group and a representative of the federal state of Bahia Luiza Maia:
Como vocês sabem esses últimos seis meses não foram fáceis pra nós. Por causa da nossa coragem tivemos que abrir mão de muita coisa. Estamos longe da nossa família, de amigos e sem meios de comunicação.
Então aproveitei a oportunidade para agradecer a cada uma de vocês que saíram de suas cidades, de suas casas para vir até Ruy Barbosa nos dar força, mostrar que não estamos sozinhas e que temos que seguir esta batalha. Em vários momentos eu cheguei a mim (sic) culpar, a desisti de tudo. Mas sempre lembramos que não estamos sozinhas. Temos todas vocês nos apoiando e lutando junto com a gente.
Obrigado por cada palavra de conforto.
A todas vocês, Negras, Zeferinas, Repúdio, Deputada Luiza Maia e todos que estão a gente.
Vítimas da New Hit
As you know these last six months have not been easy for us. We have had to give up so much for being courageous. We are far from our family, friends and without means of communication.
So I've taken the opportunity to thank each and every one of you who have left their cities and their homes to come to the town of Ruy Barbosa to give us strength, to show us that we are not alone and that we have to go on with this battle. At times I've started to blame myself, to even think of giving it all up. But we always remember that we are not alone. We have all of you supporting us and fighting alongside us.
Thank you for every word of comfort.
To all of you, black women, Zeferinas, Repúdio, representative of the federal state of Bahia Luiza Maia and everyone else.
The Victims of New Hit