Monday, May 6, 2013

Brazil: Another Rape of Tourist on Moving Bus in Rio de Janeiro

According to EFE, the rape of a foreign tourist, 30, by an armed assailant on a moving bus in Rio de Janeiro on Friday afternoon (May 3), in addition to a number of passengers being robbed, has created a flood of reactions on social media sites.

Additionally, on March 29, an American tourist, 21, was raped by three assailants, as well as her French boyfriend, 23, on a collectivo in RioHer male partner was beaten with a lead pipe and forced to watch his girlfriend being repeatedly raped by the assailants.

Following the gang-rape, the couple was forced to use bank cards to withdraw money from their accounts before the assailants finally freed them at a bus station on the outskirts of Rio.

After the couple were freed about 0600 hours on Saturday and left at a bus station, the woman was taken to two public hospitals for treatment, including the administering of a cocktail of drugs containing the morning-after pill, to prevent pregnancy, and other medications to prevent sexually transmitted diseases.

COMMENT: After working in Brazil for the better part of 25 years, I was stunned when the Rio was selected to host not only the 2014 World Cup, but the 2016 Olympics as well. Rio is a city abundant with unchecked violence and ineffective and corrupt policing.

Two suspects were arrested  shortly after the gang-rape, one of whom reportedly confessed to the rape of the 21-year-old victim. Police said she had been in Brazil on a student visa. A third suspect was arrested on Monday night (April 1).

The gang-rape follows closely to recent gang-rape of a Swiss tourist in India and the attempted rape of an American tourist there as well, not to mention the gang-rape and murder of an Indian medical student, 23, in December 2012, on a moving bus in New Delhi.
 
As reported previously, roughly 35% of female tourists who had planned to visit India have cancelled their reservations.

The rape victim in the incident described above left Brazil after registering the crime and undergoing preliminary medical treatment, while her French companion remained in Rio, where he was cooperating with the police.

Interestingly, a Brazilian student, 21, said she had similarly been held for an hour and raped by the same men on March 23, after boarding the van they had used. Two police officials in charge of investigating the March 23 case were abruptly removed from their posts on Monday (April 1).
 
More broadly, reports of forcible rape in Brazil have risen dramatically since 2009, when the nation’s criminal code was changed to expand the legal definition of rape to include crimes involving anal penetration. 

More than 5,300 people, about 90% of whom are women, registered cases of rape in the first six months of 2012, an increase of more than 150% since 2009. 

For the benefit of our readers, the following suggestions are offered in terms of reducing the risk of sexual assault and rape:

1. Don't drink alcoholic beverages to the excess, particularly at night and in countries that are unfamiliar to you;

2. Don't frequent bars or taverns alone, as it is a common practice on the part of sexual predators to use date-rape drugs to immobilize victims;

3. Consider taking a self-defense course from a reputable police agency or security firm;

4. Women alone should travel in the company of others whenever possible;

5. Avoid walking in poorly illuminated areas;

6. For women, identify the threat of sexual assault and rape before you decide to visit a specific country;

7. For women, consider traveling safely in small groups of women: 
    http://www.women-traveling.com 

8.  Stay in safe, reputable accommodations;

9. Avoid collectivos: They are poorly regulated, many are unlicensed and many of the drivers of such vehicles have unsavory backgrounds;

10. Learn about the neighborhoods you'll be traveling in: Get a map and study it. Know where safe places are to go to in an emergency; and

11. Find potential travel partners through professional associations and clubs that are reputable and respected.