Valentina Shulz is one of the many young chefs hoping to show off her culinary chops on Brazil’s "MasterChef Junior," but when the series made its debut on Oct. 20, the 12-year-old girl instead became the target of online sexual harassment.
“If there is consent is it pedophilia?” wrote one Twitter user about Shulz.
Think Olga, a Brazilian feminist group battling against street harassment and abuse against women, decided to fight back against the men who were tweeting disturbing sexual messages about the girl and to expose the larger issue of harassment in the country.
Using the hashtag #PrimeiroAssedio, which translates to “first harassment,” the group asked its Twitter followers on Oct. 21, to share the first time they experienced sexual harassment.
Journalist and Think Olga founder Juliana de Faria told BBC Trending on Monday that the campaign started with her tweeting her own harassment story. And after seeing the overwhelming initial response from her followers, she decided to create the hashtag.
"Suddenly some readers and followers of Think Olga were writing me back with the first time they were harassed and they were very, very young, as young as five years old,” De Faria told BBC. “So I started retweeting that.”
The hashtag has since been used more than 90,000 times, according to BBC.
One of the judges on Brazil's "MasterChef Junior," Paola Carosella, was one of the of women who shared her story. The Argentine chef recently told a São Paulo newspaper that when she was 11 or 12, a man pressed up against her and masturbated next to her while she was on a bus.
"When I found the strength and courage, I pushed him and got off the bus," Carosella told the Folha de S. Paulo. "I couldn't walk. My legs were shaking. I never told this to anyone, because I was ashamed, as if it was my fault."
The hashtag continues to grow as more and more Brazilian women tell their harrowing stories, from being groped on the street to being victims of rape at a young age. It is inspiring women around the world to speak out.
Here are a few of the stories from #PrimeiroAssedio.
WARNING: Some of the tweets below may be severely disturbing or graphic for some readers.
The movement also recently prompted some men in Brazil to begin a campaign using the hashtag #MeaCulpa, a Latin phrase used to acknowledge fault, to encourage men to own up to their behavior and attitudes.
“Everything I read was terrifying. And worse than the atrocities being told was the realization that that evil was part of women’s daily life throughout all their lives,” author Pedro Neschling, who participated in the #MeaCulpa campaign, told O Globo. “It is the duty of all of us, men, to open our eyes and realize we have more fault than we care to admit.”
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