Brazilian media outlets have recently given much attention to some disturbing study results released by Ipea (Institute of Applied Economic Research). Of the nearly 4,000 respondents, 65 percent agree or partially agree with the statement, “Women who wear clothing that shows off their bodies deserve to be attacked.” Furthermore, 68.5 percent agree with the statement, “If women knew how to behave, there would be less rape.”
In response, journalist Nana Queiroz posted on Facebook this photo of herself.
It set off a viral campaign, with both men and women posting photos of themselves with the phrase “I don’t deserve to be raped,” or variations such as “No one deserves to be raped,” “My clothing is not an invitation” and “I deserve respect.” Queiroz’s Não Mereço Ser Estuprada page has so far received over 67,000 likes on Facebook, with people adding their photos everyday. Even President Dilma Rouseff Tweeted a statement of support for Queiroz and the campaign.
Then, just a few days ago, Ipea admitted an error in its findings: the wrong graph was attributed to the wrong statement. The study actually found that 25 percent agree with the statement “Women who wear clothing that shows off their bodies deserve to be attacked,” and 65 percent agree with the statement “Assaulted women who stay with their partner enjoy being hit.”
Even though 25 percent is a lot less alarming than 65 percent, it doesn’t invalidate Queiroz’s campaign or make the matter any less pressing. She was recently a guest on several popular TV shows such as Encontro com Fátima Bernardes and Altas Horas where she discussed the issue, and revealed that both she and her husband have received harassment and threats of rape. On Altas Horas, which has a studio audience comprised of mostly teenagers, one girl shared her story about being followed and physically assaulted in the grocery store at age 12, and the police noting in the report that she had on shorts. Another girl tearfully recalled a time when men said they would follow her home, and her confusion and shock because she was fully dressed in winter clothes.
Starting a dialogue and examining why such attitudes about women and rape are problematic are imperative steps in making any sort of social change in Brazil as well as the world. It’s uplifting to see so many people respond to the issue and make people take notice. Brazil is one of the fastest growing markets for social media, with 65 million Facebook users and 41 million Twitter users, and this is just one way that people are taking advantage of it.
Now that Ipea has released the accurate results, people need to also discuss the problem behind believing that assaulted women who stay with their partners enjoy being hit. It’s another case of blaming the victim that is also a global epidemic.
There were some other findings from the study that haven’t gotten much attention, but are still important.
- 79 percent agree/partly agree that it’s best not to get involved in another couple’s fight.
- 64 percent agree/partly agree that the man should be the head of the household.
- 55 percent agree/partly agree that there are women for marriage and women for sex.