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Two Brazilian Women Kill Themselves After Sex Tape, Nude Photos Leaked

Within a short time span, two young women killed themselves in Brazil after men disclosed intimate videos and photos of them on social networks, thrusting the issue of revenge porn and leaked sex tapes back into the spotlight.

Messages left by Júlia Rebeca on her Twitter profile (@coejuju).

Messages left by Júlia Rebeca on her Twitter profile (@coejuju). Translation:
“I am afraid but I think is goodbye forever”
“I love you, I'm sorry because I'm not the perfect daughter, but I tried. I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I love you so much…”
“Soon it all be over”

One of the cases occurred in the city of Parnaíba, Piauí on 10 November. Julia Rebeca, 17 years old, recorded a video in which she participated in a sex scene with a boy and another girl, and it was later released via mobile messaging application WhatsApp– a tool that is increasingly being used in Brazil to disseminate intimate videos. The video eventually began to be shared on the Internet. Rebeca even announced on Twitter her own suicide, and ended up strangling herself with the cord of her hair straightener. The girl was found dead in her bedroom.

The other girl who participated in the video also tried to commit suicide by poisoning herself, but was rescued in time and survived.

Another similar case occurred just four days later, this time with Giana Laura Fabi from Veranopolis in the state of Rio Grande do Sul. The young woman hanged herself at home, and was later found by her family. She had showed her breasts to a boy during a conversation on Skype, and he confirmed to police that he took a screenshot and released the image among friends. A friend of Fabi received the photo and warned her about what happened. She reported to police that Fabi was upset about what was happening.

The issue of leaking intimate material on the Internet made headlines in Brazilian media last month with the #ForçaFran case, in which an intimate video of a young woman was shared through WhatsApp without her consent, awaking the debate around sexism and the society's control over the female body.

But this time the consequences were even more tragic.

Sexism that kills

Some posts reflecting on episodes involving the leakage of intimate materials focused on sexism and on the lack of character of the men who disclose this kind of material, often as a form of vengeance or revenge, or simply as a way to gain status among their peers.

Slut Walk – São Paulo, 4th July 2011. In one of the posters it is written: “Meu corpo, minhas regras” (“My body, my rules”). Photo: Andre M. Chang copyright Demotix.

Slut Walk – São Paulo, 4 July 2011. One of the posters says: “Meu corpo, minhas regras” (My body, my rules). Photo by Andre M. Chang. Copyright Demotix.

Blogger Camila Pavanelli highlighted that these tragic cases are the consequence of society's sexism:

O problema não é que ela transou. O problema não é que ela tirou foto enquanto transou. O problema não é que o ex-namorado é louco e/ou mau-caráter e ELA deveria ter arrumado homem melhor. Em suma, o problema não é que ela estava usando minissaia, como costumam dizer em caso de estupro.

O problema mesmo é o machismo.

The problem is not that she had sex. The problem is not that she took a photo while having sex. The problem is not that the ex-boyfriend is crazy and / or an evil character and SHE should have chosen a better man. In sum, the problem is not that she was wearing miniskirt, as people use to say in the case of rape. The problem is sexism.

Pavanelli also reflected:

O que as pessoas não entendem é que sempre se dá um jeito de botar a culpa na mulher. Se transou, é porque deu, então é puta; se não transou, é porque não quis dar, então é histérica. De qualquer forma, é culpada.

What people don’t understand is that one always find a way to blame the woman. If she had sex, it is because she had sex, then she is a slut, and if she doesn’t, it is because she doesn’t want to give it, then she is hysteric. Whatever the case, she is guilty.

Lawyer Flavia Penido on her blog Lady Rasta also discussed the issue, questioning the recommendations for girls to choose their company better:

Em uma semana, continuamos a ler e ouvir a mesma cantilena de sempre: que como os homens não mudam e a sociedade “é assim mesmo”, nós temos que ensinar as meninas a não se deixar filmar; que como “os homens (vocês sabem, esses menininhos grandes inimputáveis que não sabem o que é certo é errado, tadinhos deles) dividem mulher em pra casar e pra zoar, nós temos que ensinar nossas filhas a se comportar” (não sei bem o que é se comportar – pra mim ainda é não roubar o lanche do amiguinho, mas enfim, sou moça antiga).

Tá errado, gente. Não é assim que as coisas vão mudar.

In one week, we continue to read and hear the same old chatter: that men don't change and society “is like this anyway”, so we need to teach girls that they shouldn't let themselves be filmed: that since “men (you know, these big and unimputable boys who don't know what is wrong and right, poor them) are the ones who divide women up between those who are for marrying and those who are just for fun, we need to teach our girls to behave well” (I don’t know what it is to behave well – for me it is still don't steal your friend's snack, but anyway, I’m an old girl). This is wrong, people. This is not how things will change.

This perspective is evident by how the men involved in these leaks of intimate photos and videos are seen as prodigious and remain unscathed, while women involved have their lives devastated and are blamed and condemned, even in the most tragic of consequences.

On social networks, unfortunate comments that profess contradictory morals are often found, many from women repeating the lines that “if she filmed, it’s because she wanted to”, or that the video “is not from an innocent girl. It was from a person experienced in sex”, as can be seen on the article Caso Júlia: Localizado novo vídeo de sexo e amiga tenta suicídio com veneno (Case Júlia: New sex video surfaces and friend tries to commit suicide with poison).

Revenge porn

The revenge porn problem needs to be addressed quickly by society in order to prevent tragic events like these from happening again. Bills to provide legal penalties have been discussed worldwide. In Brazil, congressman and former football star Romario de Souza Faria introduced a bill to criminalize the improper disclosure of intimate material.

But debate over the root of the problem why women are placed in this situation in the first place is urgently needed, as journalist Lino Bocchini wrote in his post “Quem é culpado pelo suicídio da garota de Veranópolis?” (“Who is guilty for the suicide of the girl from Veranopolis?”):

Vivemos numa sociedade que cobra a cada instante que você tenha sucesso. E, no caso das mulheres, por sucesso entenda-se uma cruel e impossível equação na qual você tem que ser magra, bonita e gostosa mas, por outro lado, não pode ser “fácil”, tem que “se dar o respeito”. Tem que ser bem sucedida profissionalmente. E tem que assistir o exemplo de uma mocinha da novela das oito que, aos 17 anos, usa shorts minúsculos e rebola para milhões de pessoas toda noite mas, fora das telas, assume o papel de futura esposa respeitosa do namorado jogador de futebol famoso.

We live in a society that demands that you succeed every time. And, for women, “success” means a cruel and impossible equation in which you have to be thin, beautiful and voluptuous, but on the other hand, you cannot be “easy”, you need to be “respectful”. Women have to be professionally successful. And have to follow the example of the soap opera's young lady who at 17, wears tiny shorts and shakes her ass for millions of people every night, but in real life, takes on the role of respectful future wife of her famous football player boyfriend.

Brazilian women face this difficult dichotomy between placing value on sensuality and looking down on sexuality, and, as stated by Flavia Penido at Lady Rasta blog, are divided in two categories:

A mulher tem que ser precavida, se guardar, ser ciosa do seu “tesouro” (em que século estamos estamos mesmo?), que não deve ser visto a despeito de todas as câmeras existentes no mundo. Ela, ELA deve ser responsável, já que os homens, esses irresponsáveis, não entendem que todas as mulheres são iguais e “eles” decidiram que “tem mulher pra casar e mulher pra zoar”.

Women need to be cautious, save themselves, be jealous of their “treasure” (in what century are we really?) which shouldn’t be seen despite all the cameras in the world. She, SHE should be responsible, since men, these irresponsible men, do not understand that all women are equal and “they”, men, have decided that there are “women to get married to and women to have fun with.”

In a country where people deal in contradictory ways with sexuality and even with the woman's body, it seems to be fundamental to go beyond perspectives that reinforce gender inequalities and repression, in order to overcome this and other forms of violence against women.

The number one cause for suicide is untreated depression. Depression is treatable and suicide is preventable. You can get help from confidential support lines for the suicidal and those in emotional crisis. Visit Befrienders.org to find a suicide prevention helpline in your country.
  • Paul

    Nearly 80% of suicides are men… yet the focus is ALWAYS on the women. Sexist website is sexist.

    • Nico Ruesch

      The point here is another: Men do not get stigmatized for having a satisfactory sexual life. Women do. Fail comment fails.

      • Paul

        It’s absurdly easy for a woman to sleep around. It’s a challenge for a guy to do so. That’s why the double standard exists… because women are sexually privileged.

        • WhoIsMyNeighbor

          The sexual double standard exists because women were considered property, and sex a method of acquiring them as property. Men and women who enjoy mature relationships do not reduce them to games. Adult intimacy does not require score keeping.

      • NokturnoSer

        nobody estigmatized these girls for doing what they did, somebody shared a video and they decided to kill themselves because of this, where is the

        stigmatizing here? I don’t see it.

        • Nico Ruesch

          Are you for real? What world do you live on? Don’t be obtuse!

    • ateo

      Trying to change the focus doesn’t make the point less important. Go complain elsewhere.

      • Paul

        The focus should be on the male suicide epidemic. What do you report on… the train wreck or the car accident?

        • Nico Ruesch

          The focus is not on suicide. It’s on how a patriarchal society mistreats women.

          • Paul

            It doesn’t mistreat women. Women are the favored class. Every government benefit program in existence gives more to women than men while men pay more in taxes. Bars offer free drinks to women, nightclubs exclude men. Dating completely favors women.

            Patriarchy is a bad theory that doesn’t match reality.

          • Nico Ruesch

            You’re delusional, mate.

          • Paul

            Welfare pays more women than men. Women collect more in government pensions than men. Women collect more social security than men. The Affordable Healthcare Act made it illegal to charge women more for healthcare than men, despite the fact that women cost the system about 35% more than men. Explain to me how the government is a patriarchy when men pay more in taxes and women get more in benefits.

            There is a bar down the street from me that gives free drinks to young women on Wednesdays, in addition to the drinks that guys pay for. Face it, society treats women better than men.

        • Flor

          Go away, misogynistic assh…..e.

          • Paul

            Can’t beat my arguments… resort to name calling.

    • http://tsavkko.blogspot.com Raphael Tsavkko

      Real genius, right? Never heard of men killing themselves (or ourselves) because someone leaked a sextape…

      • Paul

        The result is the same. For these 2 women that killed themselves who had media coverage there are 8 men who did the same who don’t have media coverage.

        There are plenty of motivating factors for suicide and yet you and the media focus on the women as usual. Men are the invisible gender. Our problems are routinely ignored.

  • WhoIsMyNeighbor

    This is off topic, but I want to commend the author for including both the original statements and the translations. It is a real testament to the importance of empowered voices when a reporter allows the original speakers to retain their own voices. Well done.

  • Thai

    Reminds me so much of my own culture and mindset I was raised in and what most people I know think. Thanks for sharing this, really makes me think of what we’ve been taught to believe as young girls and women.

  • Michael Stewart

    Despite i think it was wrong for the guy to post the girl’s photo online. Her committing suicide was not his fault. If you send someone a photo you lose the power of control over what happens to that photo. The best rule of thumb is not to send a person your photo that you would not mind seeing posted all over the internet. Because it should be anticipated that the photo will be shared with other people.

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