First arrest made in Brazil over gang rape of teenage girl

Demonstrators attend a protest against rape and violence against women in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, May 27, 2016. © Ricardo Moraes
Police in Brazil reported arresting the first suspect in a high profile gang rape case, which has rocked the Latin American country. The 16-year-old victim said more than 30 men assaulted her.

The arrest on Saturday came as military police were deployed to search for four of the alleged rapists, which investigators managed to identify. Her boyfriend was one of the people on the wanted list, but the police didn't specify who was arrested.

The alleged crime, which reportedly happened last weekend in the poor São João neighborhood of Rio de Janeiro, sparked nationwide outrage after photos and video of the unconscious naked teenager were posted on social media this week and attracted misogynistic comments.

Brazil's Interim President Michel Temer pledged to form a federal police unit, which would deal with violence against women. He chaired an emergency meeting of the security ministers for each of Brazil’s states to discuss gender-related crimes.

Dilma Rousseff, Brazil's first female president, who was impeached last month, expressed outrage over the alleged rape case on Facebook.

"Once more I reiterate my condemnation of violence against women," she wrote.

Hundreds of protesters marched the streets of Rio on Friday to decry what they call an endemic culture of rape in Brazil. They were waving banners that read slogans such as: "Machismo Kills" and "No means no."

The victim told the police that she went to her boyfriend's house and lost consciousness only to wake up surrounded by more than 30 men. Before the video surfaced on Twitter she didn't report the crime. In a brief comment to a local newspaper she said she was afraid of being blamed for the rape.

She said: “It’s the stigma that hurts me the most. It is as if people are saying: ‘It’s her fault. She was using scanty clothes.’ I want people to know that it is not the woman’s fault. You can’t blame a robbery victim for being robbed.”

In a message posted on Facebook, she thanked people for the support she had received and added: "I really thought I was going to be badly judged."