Jair Bolsonaro, a far-right lawmaker who recently made headlines for praising torturers, will face the Brazilian Supreme Court over comments he made in 2014, suggesting that he would not rape a fellow lawmaker because she did “not deserve it.”
The complaint was filed by Maria do Rosario, the subject of Bolsonaro's attack. Bolsonaro made the offending comments twice, once during a session of the lower house and again during a television interview.
Supreme Court Justice Luiz Fux, the rapporteur in the case, said Bolsonaro's comment could constitute incitement to rape.
Fux was sharply critical of Bolsonaro's statement, who said that Bolsonaro's use of the word “deserve” suggested that the crime of rape was somehow “a prize, favor or a boon” based on the whims of a rapist.
The justice added that Bolsonaro's statement “not only belittles the dignity of women, (but also) says that victims deserve the suffering.”
Fux said that Bolsonaro was not entitled to immunity normally offered to lawmakers because he made the comments outside of the chamber on television.
The justice expressed concern that by broadcasting his comments publicly, Bolsonaro sought to “reap results and resonance in public opinion” from his alleged incitement to rape.
“If (Bolsonaro's) public opinion is externalized through the internet or through newspapers, that means the result was achieved, in the sense that a number of public declarations, especially in the World Wide Web, echoed this statement,” said Fux.
Brazil erupted in protest over violence against women following the alleged gang rape of a 16-year old girl, with images of the incident posted across social media.
That incident led to a debate about rape culture in Brazlian society.
Justice Fux received the support of three other justices, Edson Fachin, Rosa Weber and Luis Roberto Barroso, who agreed that political immunity did not apply in this case.
Bolsonaro's lawyers argued that immunity should protect the lawmaker as the comment was first made inside the chamber. Only Justice Marco Aurelio agreed.
The alleged crime will now be considered by the Supreme Court.