08/06/2016 8:29 AM AEST

Brazil's Copacabana Beach Dotted With Underwear In Protest Following Gang Rape

“We can’t tolerate abuse against women,” said Rio de Paz, the NGO that organized the protest.

Sergio Moraes/Reuters
Activists laid out hundreds of women's panties on Rio de Janeiro's Copacabana beach to protest a culture of sexual violence.

More than 400 pairs of red and stained white panties covered the sand of Rio de Janeiro’s Copacabana beach on Monday as part of a nationwide protest against gender-based violence.

Late last month, images of a 16-year-old girl who was reportedly raped by more than 30 men in a Rio favela circulated widely on social media, galvanizing the debate about sexism and violence in Brazil. Hashtags such as #EstuproNuncaMais (Rape Never Again) and #EstuproNaoTemJustificativa (Rape Can't Be Justified) quickly spread on Twitter.

Brazilians in major cities across the country have taken to the streets en masse to protest the attack and condemn the culture of sexual violence in which it occurred.

Mario Tama/Getty Images
Monday's protest on Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro follows the widely publicized gang rape of a 16-year-old girl in the city in late May.

Officially, 50,000 rapes were recorded in Brazil in 2014, but experts believe that the crime is grossly underreported. Up to 500,000 cases of sexual violence may be taking place in the country every year, according to Brazil's Institute of Applied Economic Research, or IPEA.

We can’t tolerate abuse against women,” Rio de Paz, the NGO behind the Copacabana beach protest, posted on Facebook. The organization laid out 420 pairs of underwear because that's the number of women who are raped every three days in Brazil, according to the pan-Latin American television network Telesur.

The beach protest also featured large close-ups of 20 models posing as victims of violence. Marked by red handprints that appear to be covering their mouths, the women's faces express fear, pain and defiance. The images are part of a project by photographer Marcio Freitas titled “I will Never Be Silent.”

Scroll down for more photos from the protest.