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Brazil Shock at Woman's Jail Rape

Authorities in Brazil are investigating reports that a young woman (15 years old) was left in a police cell with some 20 men for a month and repeatedly sexually abused...

But human-rights groups say there is uncertainty about what offence the girl was accused of and she was not formally charged.

They say that she was raped relentlessly and forced to have sex in order to obtain food.

I am shocked and indignant, as a woman and as a governor," Gov Carepa (of Para) said, promising that those responsible would face "exemplary punishment" and that such an incident would not be allowed to happen again.

The only part of this story on the BBC, that I disagree with is the shock aspect...No one who lives in Brazil is shocked at this, disgusted yes, but not really shocked.

I have lived in Brazil, almost continously for the last five years and eight of my last ten, so according to Obama, I should be pretty qualified to talk about 'relations' here.

To begin, especially in the rural dirt poor north-east part of Brazil where Para is, many crimes take place that are barbaric. Scores of police and politicians, extremely corrupt and vicious, lead murderous gangs, with hired gunslingers, pistoleiros. The politicians are protected by parliamentary immunity, a holdover of the very liberal federal Consitution (1988), which was itself a backlash to the military dictatorship that ruled Brazil from 1964 to 1985. Some of the more crooked police and politicians even run for Congress, just to seek this immunity from prosecution; the law of unintended consequences.

Brazil is a land of contrasts. It has enormous freedom and liberty, more so than in the US. You can drink a beer anywhere even behind the steering wheel, (unforunately). There are no listed taxes on anything you buy. There is little censorship in the media, and what little there is, is more concerned with profanity than sex...Rows and rows of sex motels are found in every city, large or small, and openly advertised on tv...The girls on the beaches, sometimes even on buses, wear bathing suits, fio dentals, that are as big as, well ...dental floss, Very few if any rules seem to govern public behavor in Brazil.There are no bus queues. Freedom seems to scream at you..

But what Brazil doesn't have is justice. The jails are way overcrowded, 20 inmates per cell, where you would normally find just two or three in the US. Often the situation is aggravated by the prisoners themselves rioting and destroying what mimimal facilities they have.

Brazil has six times the crimes per capita that the US does, and the highest murder rate in the world, but the incarcerated rate, per capita is one sixth of the US. So straight away there is a 36 times better chance of escaping justice in Brazil, than in America.. And even when caught, murderers often serve pathetically short sentences or are free to go until actually convicted, and then they often either escape the flimsy jails or are simply never picked up. Unless you are caught flagrantly killing someone, you are free to remain at liberty until your trial, unless you have been convicted in the past of other murders. Kidnapping, crimes of passion, three or more murders at one site/ massacres usually at a bars, are all daily grist on the news media, and I mean daily.

Politicians rarely speak about violent crime even though everyone else does, probably because they are too scared, but embezzling is a slightly more open subject. Politicians jockey for ministerial positions because they can get their hands on the state cash cows for themselves and their party members. There are about 15 parties in the federal Congress, so there are constant shifting coalitions, 20% of the congressmen and senators change parties between elections, lured by bribes to advance up the greasy pole. It is all very shameful. The evangelist parties and the Workers Party, Lula's PT, are among the worst offenders, and members are sometimes caught at airports with suitcases full of American dollars or in their underwear. Enough said, but you can see I was just getting warmed up.

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