Reported rapes in Brazil rose by 157 percent between 2009 and 2012, with Rio de Janeiro state recording 16 sexual assaults a day last year, according to official data released Sunday.
The health ministry attributed the increase to a change in the criminal code in 2009, which expanded the legal definition of rape and encouraged women to come forward about attacks, which are most often committed by family members or people close to the victims.
Before the 2009 amendment, the only act accepted as rape was “tested vaginal penetration,” while other crimes, including anal penetration, were considered “indecent assault,” the O Globo newspaper said.
Changing the laws gave women “more courage to denounce (attacks).
I suppose it’s good that women are more willing to report rapes, and it’s definitely good that the legal system has expanded the definition of rape. Hopefully, these reported cases are being prosecuted to the fullest extent under the new law. But that the rates jumped up so much when it became easier to report rape suggests just how deep a problem it continues to be, especially one considers how many cases of rape go unreported for every case that is reported.