Up to 30 men participated in the alleged sexual assault on a 16-year-old girl in Brazil last week. Video of the girl was subsequently shared on Twitter by one of the men. The brutality of this crime has moved and mobilised Brazil and the world, and has made all society reflect on the violence which daily victimises girls and women.
Sexual violence is the clearest manifestation of the consequences of a macho and patriarchal social model, where men feel they have the right to use the female body as an object, or that women, from the earliest stages of their life, are seen as the property of men. And the movement that tries to silence any form of gender issue discussions reinforces this violence and naturalises the abusive practices.
In this moment of pain and sadness, but also of mobilisation and reflection on the structural causes of gender-based violence, Plan International:
- Reaffirms that violence against women and girls has structural causes which need to be exposed and challenged: machismo, racism and classism influence the way young people in Brazil learn what is socially acceptable behaviour. All society needs to make an effort so they learn the principles of justice, gender equality, liberty and respect for difference.
- Demands that public policies and legislation for the promotion and protection of women and girls’ rights are maintained, broadened and improved so as to guarantee full and integrated support, without restriction, preventing further victimisation and guaranteeing the quality of care, as well as punishing the perpetrators.
- Reiterates its commitment to gender equality and women and girls’ empowerment and will continue mobilising society through its projects, campaigns and mobilisations, under the global Because I am a Girl movement. We will also work together with other organisations, so that girls and women can make the important decisions in their own lives and reach their full potential, free from violence and other barriers that are imposed on them because they are women.
Plan International therefore calls upon all members of Brazilian society to join the effort of this movement to guarantee that girls and women can live free from violence and that their rights may be fully upheld.
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