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Story Publication logo July 12, 2023

Bolsonaro Government Ignored Suspected Sexual Violence Against Indigenous Girls With HPV (Portuguese)


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Journalists explore the aftermath of Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro's government.


This story excerpt was translated from Portuguese. To read the original story in full, visit O Joigo e o Trigo. You may also view the original story on the Rainforest Journalism Fund website. Our website is available in English, Spanish, bahasa Indonesia, French, and Portuguese.

Illustration by O Joio e O Trigo.

Cases were not investigated by the Brazilian government agency FUNAI, nor by agencies responsible for the protection of children and adolescents; officials point out difficulties to act in Jamamadi villages because of the work of religious missionary Steve Campbell.

At least three Indigenous girls aged 9 to 12 from the Jamamadi people living in Lábrea, in southern Amazonas, were diagnosed between 2019 and 2021 with the human papillomavirus (HPV), an indication that the children may have suffered sexual violence.

The cases were reported to the regional coordination of FUNAI (National Foundation for Indigenous Peoples), then under the command of the government of President Jair Bolsonaro (PL), but the suspicions were not investigated, nor did the children receive proper treatment.

HPV is sexually transmitted and highly contagious. In women, it is the main cause of cervical cancer. In older children, sexual contact is the most likely way of contamination.

In the case of the three Jamamadi girls, all had lesions inside the mouth compatible with HPV infection, according to medical reports and documents obtained by O Joio e O Trigo and Repórter Brasil.

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In one of them, there were also other signs of sexual violence. "Transvaginal secretion was found that characterizes another STD (Sexually Transmitted Disease)," according to a 2019 report signed by a doctor from the UBS of Lábrea, regarding an 11-year-old Jamamadi girl.

Courtesy of O Joio e O Trigo. A document shows a doctor's recommendation to call social services.

Courtesy of O Joio e O Trigo. A document, issued by social services, proves that two teenagers were tested and had a "sexually transmittable disease."

Courtesy of O Joio e O Trigo. A document, issued by FUNAI, shows the agency's technical area informing the regional coordination about the three episodes of Indigenous teenagers under investigation.

The Jamamadi people live in Lábrea, in the south of Amazonas. Image courtesy of Medio Purus Regional Coordination/FUNAI. Brazil, 2023.

The Jamamadi people live in Lábrea, in the south of Amazonas. Image courtesy of OPAN. Brazil, 2023.

Courtesy of O Joio e O Trigo. A document, issued by the Ministry of Health, shows conflicting disputes about who are the people authorized to enter Indigenous land.

Missionary Steve Campbell lives in the urban area of Lábrea and continues to exert influence. Image courtesy: Disclosure. Brazil, 2023.