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Brazil: Daily Violence Against Women

The recent assassination of a woman by the alleged father of her baby, and a promising young Brazilian goalkeeper, has been on the media spotlight, shocking the country for the level of violence involved in the crime. At the same time, Instituto Sangari [pt], a non profit for social awareness on scientific culture based in São Paulo, published its 2010 Map of Violence in  Brazil [pt] stating that 10 women are assassinated everyday in the country. Inevitably, the blogsphere put the two together and condemnation of such crimes became a hot topic beyond the sensationalist broadcasting of mainstream media, which has been limited to the footballer's crime.

According to Nilcéa Freire, minister of women policies, violence against women is in fact largely ignored by the media [pt]:

“Quando surgem casos, principalmente com pessoas famosas, que chegam aos jornais, é que a sociedade efetivamente se dá conta de que aquilo acontece cotidianamente e não sai nos jornais. As mulheres são violentadas, são subjugadas cotidianamente pela desigualdade”, afirmou ao ministra.

When there are cases, mainly related to famous people that make it to the news, society realizes what happens on a daily basis and does not get in the newspapers. Women are rapped, subjugated daily though inequality.

Aware of this, women's groups, such as Pão e Rosas [Bread and Roses, pt], ask how many more such cases have to happen and call on all oppressed women to organize themselves in schools, neighborhoods and workplaces.

Devemos exigir abrigos para as mulheres vítimas de violência e para seus filhos e filhas subsidiados pelo Estado, mas sob controle das próprias vítimas de violência, das organizações e comissões de mulheres independentes do Estado, da patronal, da polícia e da Igreja.

We must demand shelters for women victims of violence and for their sons and daughters, subsidized by the state, but under control of the victims of violence themselves, of the organizations and commissions of women independent from the state, from unions, from the police and from the church.

International Day of Non-Violence Against Women, Flickr, Gallery of Daniela Gama, CC Licensed

Cases of violence against women in Brazil are anything but uniform. If on one hand 50 districts surpass 10 killings per 100.000 inhabitants, more than half of Brazilian cities didn't register any murders. When comparing Brazilian states, the discrepancies are equally surprising:

Espírito Santo, o primeiro lugar no ranking, tem índices de 10,3 assassinatos de mulheres por 100 mil habitantes. No Maranhão é de 1,9 por 100 mil. “Os resultados mostram que a concentração de homicídios no Brasil é heterogênea. Fica difícil encontrar um padrão que permita explicar as causas”, afirma o pesquisador Julio Jacobo Wiaselfisz, autor do estudo.

Espírito Santo, first place in the ranking, has levels of 10,3 murders of women for each 100.000 inhabitants. In Maranhão is 1,9 for 100.000. “The results show the concentration of killings in Brazil to be heterogenous. It is hard to find a pattern that gives an explanation of the causes” says researcher Julio Jacobo Wiaselfisz, author of the study.

In the last 10 years, over 41.000 women from all social classes aged between 18 and 30 years old were killed, often witnessed by their children who are also often victims of violence too [pt]. Lack of support services for women in risk situations is pointed as one of causes of impunity for attackers in spite of the Maria_da_Penha law passed in 2006, which granted women protection after a complaint and assured them that attackers would be punished. However [pt],

a nova lei não impediu o assassinato da cabeleireira Maria Islaine de Morais, morta em janeiro diante das câmeras pelo ex-marido, alvo de oito denúncias. Nem uma série de outros casos que todos os dias ganham as manchetes dos jornais.

the new law didn't prevent the murder of hairdresser Maria Islaine de Morais, killed in January in front of the cameras by her ex-husband, against who she had filed 8 complaints.

Violence against women, we can stop it!, CC Licensed

In fact, most victims are murdered by relatives, husbands, boyfriends or other man that they may have rejected [pt].

São casos como negativas de fazer sexo ou de manter a relação. Em 50% das ocorrências, o motivo foi qualificado como fútil, como casos de discussões domésticas. Houve 10% de mortes por motivos passionais, ligados a ciúmes, por exemplo, e 10% relacionado ao uso ou à venda de drogas.

Saying no to sex or wanting to break up the relationship make these cases. In 50% of them the motive was qualified as futile, such as cases resulting from domestic arguments. 10% are passional crimes, related to jealousy, for example, and 10% are related to using or selling drugs.

The roots of the violence are denounced [pt] as inherent to the misogyny that characterizes Brazilian culture:

Essas novelas de violência contra a mulher estão tirando do baú toda a brutalidade contra a mulher brasileira. Expôs as vísceras dessa cultura brasileira tão machista; colocou do avesso o iceberg de uma realidade que costumamos empurrar para debaixo do tapete. Os números dessa violência são tão grande que nos assustam e nos levam a pergunta, se essas ações são de seres humanos!

These soap operas of violence against women are revealing all the brutality against the Brazilian woman. The insides of Brazilian misogynistic culture are exposed; the iceberg of a reality we hide underneath the rug has been turned. The violence numbers are so high that we are scared and ask if such actions are done by human beings!

For blogger Flávia D. [pt] women are also themselves part of the problem. They often accept and incorporate the role of women in society as subjugated to men, and are frequently the first ones pointing the finger at women that behave in a manner they consider to be inappropriate, minimizing the perpetrator's action even if unconsciously. For the Barbarelas [pt], a blog dedicated to fighting against all violence, it is necessary to unite society in order to put an end to all the violence inflicted on women.

A violência contra mulheres e meninas é algo intolerável, inaceitável, fere a consciência da humanidade, é uma violação aos direitos humanos. Afeta a saúde, reduz anos e qualidade de vida das mulheres. O Brasil, como signatário dos documentos internacionais de direitos humanos das mulheres, e tendo uma legislação nacional a ser cumprida, não pode calar-se e omitir-se. Espera-se de cada autoridade que faça sua parte. E da sociedade, do movimento de mulheres e de homens pela equidade de gênero, que protestem contra estas manifestações do atraso cultural, do machismo e da omissão.

Violence against women and girls is intolerable, unacceptable, hurts humanity's consciousness, it is a violation of human rights. It affects health, decreases the age expectancy and women's quality of life. Brazil, as a signer of international documents on the rights of women, and having a national legislation to comply with, cannot stay silent and omissive. We expect each authority to act. And that society, the movements of women and men for gender equality, protest against this manifestations of cultural backwardness, of misogyny and omission.

Women needing help in Brazil can call free 180 to denounce any violence against them or any neglect from authorities regarding their complaints and cases. The information was extracted from blog Contra Machismo who reminds readers on its post title that in Brazil violence against women still happens on a daily basis.

Read the related article Brazil: The Violence Against Women Debate written by Diego Casaes in a series of special Global Voices posts to raise awareness and voices around The International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women (November 2009).

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