Aline e Indira conversam sobre um estupro em grupo com os traficantes do morro que moravam quando tinham começado de trabalhar na Vila Mimosa. “Ou dava ou morria,” diz Aline. (Video em português; legenda embaixo em inglês.)
Over two interviews, Aline and Indira talk about when they were gang raped by drug traffickers on the way home from work one morning, when they were first working in Vila Mimosa. “It was do or die,” says Aline.
Aline’s colleague Natalha was also violently gang raped when she was younger over money her friend owed some men for cocaine. These stories happened in the 90’s, but they are timely. This May (2016), a sixteen year old in Rio was raped by more than 30 men (nobody quite knows how many) who took photos with her unconscious body and shared them on social media. All she remembers was going to visit her boyfriend and waking up to a room full of armed men.
Several sex workers told researchers of Rio’s Prostitution Policy Watch (Observatório da Prostituição) that radical feminist took the occasion to expose and threaten them on social media, blaming them for perpetuating objectification and rape culture – reinforcing the same rape culture logic that some people “deserve” to be raped.
Aline, Indira and Natalha’s stories testify to the fact that sex workers, particularly because of the precarious legality of their work, and the suffocating social stigma that surrounds it, bear a disproportionate burden of sexual violence in our society, and generally have less means than the average woman to seek or secure justice when it happens.
For now, we spread their words.
Indira: Life is troubling, isn’t it? But I don’t let that sink my boat. I can’t. I have to be strong.
Aline: I was telling Julie, we suffered so much prejudice when we lived in the morro.
Indira: My God!
Aline: They would say, “Here come the whores!”
Indira: And what about the bandidos? They were threatening us all the time.
Aline: With guns.
Indira: With guns. We would try to sneak up the hill to get home, to make sure there were no bandidos, so we could just get home and go to sleep.
Aline: Every single day we came home, they wanted to have sex with us.
Julie: Every… every day?
Aline: Every day. We’d get back from working in Vila Mimosa in the early morning, the three of us….
Indira: The worst thing that ever happened to me was when me, my niece and my friend were heading up the hill at Morro da Coroa one night, coming home from Vila Mimosa.
We found ourselves in a horrible situation, because of the fact that we worked in Vila. It was the worst thing in my life…
My life was over. Because of what happened, I had to leave. I lost my house, I lost my bar, I lost everything.
I did not imagine that I would have to have sex with them, because I lived in their neighborhood. That for me was the worst…
Aline: It was difficult. It was bad for me to. Either you gave it up or you died. With a gun to your head.
Indira: I felt suffocated and started to scream. I recognized one guy and said, “I’ve known you since you were little. You sat on my lap and slept in my bed. And now you’re going to do this to me?”
But seeing my niece and my friend have to go through that, and we couldn’t so much as open our mouths, because they were the literal “kings of the world” around there.
Aline: They weren’t little bandidos… it was the chefe, his general and his brother.
Indira: This guy ran the favela. All his men were there. And we had to do it, so they wouldn’t beat us or yell at us.
It’s the worst thing that’s ever happened in my life. I never imagined that someone you would open your house to, like he was your son, would grow up one day, and when he reached 18, think he could use you like that.
Because you’re a woman.
Because you’re trash.
Because you work in Vila Mimosa.
For them, women who work in Vila have no future. We’re trash. We’re worthless. Understand?
We’re only good if we have some money in the bank that men can take and leave you. That’s my reality.
When I think back about it, it really shocked me that I had to lose my house because of what they did. I had a beautiful house, and I had to leave it.
I couldn’t stay there with two kids. Coming home tired from work and having to let bandidos into my house and have sex with them. It’s horrible.
But none of that any more. I life on the asphalt [versus the morro, or favela] and I have my own house again. I try to help people within my means because of the suffering I went through. I went hungry, I lived on the streets. I ate trash to survive.
Aline: You suffered. I know. I have known you for years.
Indira: What I went through to survive.
Aline: And by yourself. You were always mom and dad to your kids.
Indira: Those who know me, know that I am not lying. I went through all of this. Aline, you know all of this happened.
Indira: And it wasn’t just us. A lot of other women who weren’t prostitutes suffered what we went through with the bandidos and were raped at gunpoint like that.
We got it worse though because we were prostitutes. And he made me… he obliged me to bring other women.
“Bring some more girls over here. You’ve been ordered to bring them,” he said to me.
Aline: “Do it or you die.”
Indira: Do it or die.
Aline: And we had to have sex with a gun at our heads. I had to have sex with three of them. But at least they used condoms. I told them I wanted to use a condom. They didn’t want to, but they did.
Indira: I always have condoms in my purse. I said, “People, use condoms, take these.” You have to make up a reason to get them to use them.
Julie: So these guys are on drugs and have a gun pointed to your head but they used a condom.
Aline: I had two guys fucking me. Three women with five, six men.
Indira: Do you have any idea what that was like?