BRASILIA, Brazil (AP) -- A Brazilian court decision that sex with a 12-year-old does not necessarily constitute statutory rape has caused outrage among human rights activists in the country.
The Superior Court of Justice ruled this week that a man accused of having sex with three 12-year-olds couldn't be convicted of rape because of extenuating circumstances, including the fact the girls had previously worked as prostitutes.
Amnesty International on Friday blasted the verdict by the appeals court as "outrageous" and called it an "affront to the most basic human rights.
"This shocking ruling effectively gives a green light to rapists and if it prevails could dissuade other survivors of sexual abuse from reporting these crimes," the head of the group's Brazil branch, Atila Roque, said in a statement.
Brazil's human rights minister, Maria do Rosario Nunes, said the verdict "would in practice spell impunity," and she pledged to try to get it overturned.
The court's president, Ari Pargendler, has said the court is open to revising the decision
Brazilian law forbids sex with anyone under the age of 14, but that law was adopted in 2009. The court said the fact that the alleged crime occurred in 2002 was another extenuating circumstance and upheld the rulings of lower courts in Sao Paulo.
"It is of extreme concern that the protections provided by Brazil's legislation in cases such as these have not been implemented," said the Amnesty International statement.