Viviane Teves, a 28-year-old Brazilian, decided to go to her Facebook page on Monday, February 9 and do one of the toughest things a woman who was raped could do: share her story.
Eu tento, constantemente, apagar as cenas da cabeça. Eu sei que sou forte, eu sempre fui. Mas dessa vez eu não consegui. Tudo que eu tinha esquecido nestes anos que se passaram, voltaram mais fortes do que nunca. Eu relembro o rosto, eu relembro o ato, eu relembro o dia, a dor, a droga na minha bebida, a roupa rasgada, o dinheiro roubado, o carro batido.
I try, constantly, to erase the scenes from my head. I know I’m strong, I’ve always been. But this time I couldn’t bear it. Everything I had forgotten in these past years are back stronger than ever. I remember the face, I remember the act, I remember the day, the pain, the drug in my drink, the torn clothes, the stolen money, the crashed car.
Ten years have passed since February 12, 2005, when she says she was raped. But the wounds remain. In her post, Teves says she decided to post about it to create awareness about rape victims:
Tenho um namorado que me dá força todos os dias e está ao meu lado me dando carinho nesta fase ruim. Tenho minha mãe que me relembrou que eu passei por coisas muito, mas muitos piores na minha vida, com pessoas ruins que passaram por ela. Tenho amigos e mais amigos que estão ao meu lado. Tenho minha família. Mas ainda dói. Dói muito! Sempre vai doer. Eu sou forte, eu sei que sou. Mas dói e essa dor está me consumindo. Novamente, eu sou forte. A fase vai passar. Os dias bons irão voltar. Já se foram 10 anos. Depois serão 20, 30, eu nunca vou esquecer, mas ficará mais fácil. Ficará mais fácil lidar que isso é ruim, mas acontece. E o que devemos fazer? Levantar a cabeça. Crescer. Aprender. Lidar com as adversidades e mostrar que, acima de tudo, eu sou forte. Eu consigo. A vida vai continuar seguindo e ela vai ser linda.
I have a boyfriend who gives me strength every day and who is by my side giving me affection during this bad phase. I have my mother who reminded me that I’ve been through even worse moments in my life, with mean people who crossed my path. I have friends who are with me. I have my family. But it still hurts. It hurts a lot! It always will. I am strong, I know I am. But it hurts and this pain is consuming me. Again, I’m strong. This phase shall pass. The good days will come back. It has been 10 years. Then it will be 20, 30, I will never forget it, but it’ll get easier. It will get easier to deal with the fact that this is bad, but it happens. And what shall we do? Raise our heads. Grow up. Learn. Deal with adversities and show that, above all, I’m strong. I can do it. Life will go on and it will be beautiful.
In her first post she received a lot of support from friends. Her testimony received more than 2,500 likes and more than 180 comments from people congratulating her for her bravery. But what came after was far from any kind of sympathy. Thursday morning, she took to her Facebook page once again:
Desde meia-noite eu tenho recebido mensagens no meu WhatsApp. Mais de 40. Descobriram meu número e jogaram em um grupo de zoeira para pessoas aleatórias me zoarem. Todas me parabenizando por esta data e desejando que aconteça novamente
Since midnight last night I have been receiving messages on my WhatsApp. More than 40. They found out my number and threw it in a joke group so random people could mock me. Everyone congratulating me for this date and wishing it would happen again.
Teves posted an album with screenshots of the harassment, which was later removed. In the post, she said she had contacted lawyers, but was still asking people what she should do to fight the cyber bullying from trolls who were congratulating her for the 10th anniversary of her “latest rape” and making other abusive and degrading comments about her.
In a different post published the same day, Teves explained that the people who sent the messages had been trolling and harassing her for years because of some online communities dedicated to dark humor that she used to manage on Orkut, a social network that was popular in Brazil between 2003 and 2008, before Facebook arrived.
In Brazil, a woman is raped every 12 seconds
Rape is a serious problem in Brazil. The last Annual Public Security Report – research carried out by the Brazilian Forum for Public Security — revealed that in 2013 the country registered 50,320 cases of rape. However, as the report also notes, taking into consideration that most rape victims don't file a report, the number could be as high as 143,000.
Another study, conducted by the Institute of Applied Economical Sciences (IPEA), estimated that each year 527,000 Brazilian citizens are raped, with 89 percent of the victims being women.
In 2013, a report published by the National Secretary for Women reached another terrifying conclusion: every 12 seconds a woman is raped in Brazil. The document used the new Brazilian Federal Law definition of rape from 2009: “to coerce somebody, through violence or serious threat, to have a sexual relations, or to practice or to allow them to practice any other libidinous act” (which includes non-penetration acts). Rape is a crime in Brazil punishable with six to ten years of jail time.
Even with this law, to some specialists the country still has to improve how it treats the victims. In an interview with the BBC in April 2014, Ana Gabriela Mendes Braga, an attorney and researcher for the criminal justice system in Brazil, pointed out that the law is often misinterpreted by police officers or judges during different stages of the process. Braga also commented on what could be a factor of intimidation for many rape victims:
Para dar queixa de um crime sexual, por exemplo, a demanda dela não é só criminal, é também psicológica. […] Há delegacias para mulheres em que a sensibilidade de delegada e as guardas não difere da dos funcionários de delegacias comuns.
When filing a complaint for a sex crime, for example, her demand is not only a criminal one, it is also psychological. […] There are some specific police bureaus for women where the sensibility of the police chief or the officers is no different than that from officers from a regular bureau.
After waiting 14 years to go to a vote, another law that will offer further protection to rape victims was approved unanimously by both houses of Congress and sanctioned by President Dilma Rousseff in 2013.
Proposed by Deputy Iara Bernardi, the Law 12.845/2013 elaborates on something that women already had guaranteed by the Brazilian Constitution: the right to abort in case of sexual violence. The law requires all public hospitals to treat rape as an emergency and offer the victims diagnosis and treatment of injuries, exams to detect STDs and pregnancy, social and psychological support and full disclosure of the victims legal right to abort.
However, a report published in news portal iG showed that a year after the law's sanctioning the service still wasn't working. Not only were the victims misinformed by public officers when looking for assistance, many public health units either refused to treat them or didn't know how to act.
This means that even though Brazil has made progress on paper, the system is still failing rape victims in practice. Teves’ case is an example of how Brazilian society sees them — and it seems it'll take even longer for this society to change than what it took our Congress to pass a law.