In Brazil, the land of mini bikinis and voluptuous carnival dancers, most people say a woman who shows off her body deserves to be raped, according to a poll that has triggered outrage.
Of the 3,810 respondents of both sexes who responded to the government’s Institute of Applied Economic Research survey released last week, about 2,480 — 65 percent — justified raping women who wear “clothing that shows off the body.”
And 58.5 percent of respondents also agreed that “if women knew how to behave, there would be fewer rapes.”
Most of the poll’s respondents — 66.5 percent — were women.
Brazilian women — and some men, too — promptly reacted angrily on blogs and social media to the study’s findings.
Journalist Nana Queiroz launched an online protest event on Facebook that invited women to take pictures of themselves topless while covering their breasts accompanied with the phrase: “I don’t deserve to be raped.”
At about 11pm on Friday, about 20,000 women simultaneously posted their photographs online.
Results were posted on the Tumblr microblogging platform at naomerecoserestuprada.tumblr.com.
Queiroz, 28, said she received several threats of rape while she led the protest online.
“The most surprising thing is that it is permissible to walk naked in the Carnival, but not in real life,” Queiroz said.
The study revealed a well-known Brazilian paradox in which a cult-like obsession with the body and sensuality clashes with the society’s dominant conservative Catholicism.
Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff also criticized the poll’s results, saying the government-run study shows that: “Brazilian society still has a long way to go.”
“It also shows that the government and society must work together to tackle violence against women inside and outside the home,” she said on her Twitter account.
Last year, Rousseff signed a law aimed at protecting victims of sexual violence.
The Catholic Church criticized the law, saying it marked a first step toward broader legalization of abortion in the country with the world’s biggest Catholic population, at 123 million.
During the 2010 presidential campaign, Rousseff had flinched under Christian churches’ pressure and vowed in writing she would not decriminalize abortion, in a move that disappointed feminists and some fellow leftists.
Abortion is currently only allowed in Brazil in cases of rape within eight weeks of pregnancy, or when the mother’s life is in danger.