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Brazil’s Copacabana beach covered in underwear as part of a nationwide rape protest

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - JUNE 06: PHOTOGRAPHS BY MARCIO FREITAS OF MODELS PORTRAYING WOMEN WHO ARE ABUSED ARE DISPLAYED ON COPACABANA BEACH WITH 420 PAIRS OF UNDERWEAR AT A DEMONSTRATION AGAINST VIOLENCE AGAINST FEMALES ON JUNE 6, 2016 IN RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL. (PHOTO BY MARIO TAMA/GETTY IMAGES)

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – JUNE 06: PHOTOGRAPHS BY MARCIO FREITAS OF MODELS PORTRAYING WOMEN WHO ARE ABUSED ARE DISPLAYED ON COPACABANA BEACH WITH 420 PAIRS OF UNDERWEAR AT A DEMONSTRATION AGAINST VIOLENCE AGAINST FEMALES ON JUNE 6, 2016 IN RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL. (PHOTO BY MARIO TAMA/GETTY IMAGES)

More than 400 pairs of underwear were laid out on the sands of Brazil’s Copacabana beach Monday as part of a nationwide sweep of protests over the gang rape of a 16-year-old girl. The 420 pairs of underwear were chosen to represent the number of women who are raped every 72 hours in Brazil, totaling up to about 50,000 women each year, according to Brazil’s Telesur.

“We are here protesting, calling on the authorities to combat impunity against this criminal practice and also to implement public policies in poor Brazilian communities, where the women are most vulnerable to the violation of their rights,” said protest organizer Antonio Carlos Costa.

The protests have erupted in response to the case of a 16-year-old who says that she was drugged and gang raped by 33 men in Rio de Janeiro on May 28. Video of the incident was then disseminated on social media.

Among the red and white underwear on Copacabana beach were 20 large poster boards showing photographs of women with the red outline of a hand over their mouths, part of an exhibit called “I will never be silenced” by the artist Marcio Freitas.