On February 18, journalist Fábio Pannunzio's blog [pt] and the TV station Rede Band [pt] released a 13-minute video in which a female desk officer with the state police of São Paulo was discharged and strip searched by male investigators from the statewide Office of Internal Affairs.
The case goes back to 2009. At the time, according to Pannunzio and Rede Band, the desk officer had received money from a person accused of carrying a weapon as a bribe for not formally imprisoning the accused. When the delegation of all male representatives from the state police's Office of Internal Affairs showed up at the precinct, they obligated the female desk officer to submit to a strip search in order to find the money. She did not object to submitting herself to a full search.
To the contrary; she merely asked that she be searched by female police officers. But her cries were in vain. Handcuffed and thrown to the ground, she quickly had her underwear and lingerie ripped off by a representative who subsequently affirmed that he had indeed found the supposed bribe money on the desk officer's person. On account of the cash found, the desk officer was discharged and now faces criminal bribery charges.
The full video of the incident can be viewed on Vimeo.
The blogosphere immediately expressed its repudiation of the Office of Internal Affairs’ attitude, stressing the illegality of the measures taken and the office's disregard for the basic principles of a democratic state of law.
Vladimir Aras’ Blog do Vlad states that the search performed by the representatives of the Office of Internal Affairs and the aggression taken towards the desk officer were the true crimes documented in the video [pt]:
Ao desnudarem à força uma mulher algemada e humilhada no chão de uma delegacia, esses agentes da lei não expuseram apenas “as vergonhas” da suspeita. Exibiram de forma exuberante o vexaminoso cotidiano de parte da Polícia brasileira, useira e vezeira em afrontar direitos humanos dos cidadãos.
In the blog Flit Paralisant, police officer Guerra reminded readers that the desk officer had filed a complaint with the Attorney General's Office in 2009 to investigate the abuse of power but that the claim had been swiftly dismissed. The state attorney in the case saw no indication of any crimes committed by investigators from the Office of Internal Affairs. Copies of the request for dismissal are available on the blog as is an e-mail relating the case sent by the desk officer that same year [pt]:
O Dr. Eduardo então mandou que eu me despisse por inteira, passei a ficar indignada pois jamais tiraria minhas vestes na frente de oito homens desconhecidos e cheguei a solicitar de joelhos que fosse acionada uma delegada, investigadora ou escriva da corregedoria, visto que propus retirar a roupa somente na frente da policial feminina, respondendo o delegado que não confiava na policial e dizendo com tom ameaçador que só sairia dali ao me ver “pelada” (…)
Infelizmente já vi em vídeos do Youtube centenas de cenas de violência policial praticadas contra cidadãos inocentes ou criminosos. São momentos em que sinto grande e verdadeira vergonha de compartilhar de um cargo policial com determinadas pessoas.
Mas, verdadeiramente, hoje não fiquei só enojado ou envergonhado. Senti na verdade uma ânsia de vômito. Desgosto. Abominável.
Unfortunately, I have seen hundreds of Youtube videos documenting police violence against both innocent citizens and criminals. Every time I feel such immense and profound shame at sharing a profession with certain individuals.
But, truthfully, today I did not feel just disgusted or ashamed. I actually felt sick to my stomach. Nauseated. It's abominable.
Danillo Ferreira, a police officer with the military police of Bahia, in his blog Abordagem Policial (Police Approach), states that the behavior of the investigators from the Office of Internal Affairs is not proper and is not what one would expect of an officer [pt]:
Um ato que merece o repúdio público, mesmo que haja provas que atestem o crime da ex-policial.
After the video was released, the Office of Internal Affairs, cowering from the public outcry, held that is officers committed no irregularities. The blog Escreva, Lola, Escreva (Write, Lola, Write) [pt], by Lola Aronovich, stressed that the incident may be rooted in police officer's sexual satisfaction:
Isso me fez lembrar o que Susan Brownmiller conta em seu clássico dos anos 70, Contra a Nossa Vontade. Era comum vítimas terem que narrar nos mínimos detalhes o seu estupro para policiais homens que ora não acreditavam nelas, ora pareciam se excitar com a narrativa. Isso quando essas vítimas não ouviam do policial: “Mas quem iria querer te estuprar?”
O caso da ex-escrivã só mostra o quanto os direitos das mulheres são colocados de lado em diversas ocasiões, ainda mais quando vemos que havia 2 policiais femininas no local e que nada fizeram para não acontecer tal afronta, fora a lastimável declaração da Corregedora e do Governador dando razão a ação dos policiais. No final das contas este caso acaba sendo apenas mais uma ilustração de como o tucanato trata os direitos humanos e em especial os direitos humanos das mulheres, como se fossem descartáveis.
Many twitterers defended the female desk officer, but, even more surprising were those who supported the male investigative officers:
@fabioninja [DJ Fabio Ninja]
Pessoal fala em abuso de poder (quanto ao caso da escrivã nua), mas ninguém menciona que, de fato, o delegado estava correto.
Sobre o caso da escrivã: se ela não tivesse cometido o crime, o ato não seria necessário. Criminoso tentando sair de vítima me cansa.
As for the case of the desk officer: if she hadn't committed the crime, this incident wouldn't even be necessary. The criminal trying to play victim wears me out.
@allandematos [Allan Matos]
Sobre o caso da ex-escrivã nua: Acho que realmente houve exagero, mas a atitude dos delegados foi digna. Corrupção deve sempre ser combatida.
As for the case of the naked former desk officer: I think they really did go overboard, but the investigators’ attitude was dignified. Corruption should be fought.
In a message to the press, Human Rights Minister Maria do Rosário called for the discharge of all police officers responsible [pt]. Fearing that the case would head to the federal courts, Governor Geraldo Alckmin, in addition to honoring the minister's request, discharged the director of the Office of Internal Affairs as well [pt] and further indicated that the state security secretary might also be discharged.
Oddly enough, the investigators had been complaining of the harsh measures [pt] adopted by the state police's Office of Internal Affairs for some time and had fought to discharge the office's directors.
The security secretary was appointed by former Governor José Serra, unlike the political group under the current Governor Alckmin, who wished to appoint someone of his personal trust to the post [pt]. Considering the consequences of this case, it will be very difficult to discover who was responsible for releasing the video.