Brazil’s Straw Hat project helps women affected by domestic violence leave abusive situations and enter the economy.
A 16-year-old girl in Rio de Janeiro was drugged and raped by about 30 men, who then posted a video of the attack to social media, in a crime that has shocked Brazil.
The alleged victim, her identity hidden, has now spoken about her ordeal.
“I was drugged, I was very groggy, there were lots of people with guns, lots of young guys laughing and talking,” she said.
It not only hurt me, it hurt my soul, because people judged me, tried to blame me for something which was not my fault
The images were widely circulated, shocking many in the country which suffers a high rate of criminal violence towards women.
The response to the victim’s complaint has also provoked outrage.
The initial police reaction has been labelled insensitive. There have also been comments, including death threats on social media, blaming the girl herself for the attack.
“It not only hurt me, it hurt my soul, because people judged me, tried to blame me for something which was not my fault. They robbed me, not just in material goods, but in a physical way.”
A police woman has now taken over the investigation since her predecessor was blamed for not taking the crime seriously enough.
“She needs protection,” said Cristina Bento, police chief for crimes against minors. “She needs care. A rape crime did happen. Now what I’m trying to find out is the extent of this rape, how many people were involved.
“I want to collect all the evidence and present it to the prosecutors’ office, so they can present a robust case and all involved can be condemned for the crime they committed.”
Meanwhile, police have issued photographs of several suspects and, backed by helicopters, dogs and armoured vehicles, raided the slum area of Rio de Janeiro where the attack is thought to have taken place.
Brazil’s Congress last year passed new laws to increase sentences for violence against women. But rights groups say at least 500,000 sexual assaults take place in Brazil every year.