Note from BW of Brazil: Here at BW of Brazil we try to present a balanced portrayal of what it is to be black in Brazil, specifically a black woman. And in attempting to provide this balance presentation, the material posted here should present triumphs and victories, as well as disappointments, disturbing realities and just day to day news that, on the surface, may not appear to be directly connected to race, but once it’s realized how events, occurrences and statistics affect different groups in different ways, ultimately, the race factor still comes in. Violence against women is clearly one of those occurrences. Of course someone who prefers to negate the reality of the influence of race in the lives of people of color will simply believe that we need not analyze violence against women under the lens of race; after all, ALL violence against women should be rejected and punished.
This is true.
But if we are to discuss violence against women, we cannot look at it honestly without looking at all the demographics of this social ill. And in order to truly get an understanding of gender violence we must know who these women are. Where they live. Their financial situation. Their marriage status. AND their race. The simple fact that over the past decade the murder rates of white women in Brazil decreased by almost 10% while the murder of black women increased by 54% is alarming enough to accept the necessity of studying violence and murder from the perspective of race. Even if just to ask, why is it that black women have been so much more vulnerable to being murdered than white women? With this in mind it is a step forward to see that this issue is being taken to some of the most powerful organizations in the world. Read on to learn more.
Black women victims of violence report cases to the OAS
By Camila Boehm and Eliane Gonçalves
During a public hearing in the state capital on September 30th, black women who have suffered various types of violence reported cases in which they were victims during a public hearing in the state capital to the Organização dos Estados Americanos (OEA or Organization of American States, OAS). The statements will be collected by the rapporteur of Direitos de Afrodescendentes e Mulheres da OEA (Rights of African Descendants and Women of the OAS), Margarette Macaulay, who came to Brazil to learn about this reality and also receive the dossier on violence suffered by black women in Brazil from the hands of activists of the organizations Geledés and Criola.
In Brazil, the murders of white women fell by 9.3% in ten years (2002-2013), while the murders of black women had an increase of 54.2% over the same period, according to data file, which is a compilation of official data of the country.
“The dossier is the result of a report that we presented to the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights of the OAS denouncing the violations and violence suffered by black Brazilian women,” said Nilza Iraci, of Geledés.
Given the increasing cases of violence against black women, there was reflection. “If we have instruments, we have laws, we have the Maria da Penha Law, something was not beating. If you have a law to combat violence against all women, what was happening?”, she asked.
“When we look back on the issue, we begin to see that it was not only of domestic and sexual violence, that we couldn’t speak of ‘violence’ against women, we would have to speak of “violences”, said Nilza.
The document explains many cases of violence, such as victims of obstetric violence, murders of lesbians, transsexuals and transvestites, and institutional racism in the justice system, religious intolerance and racism on the Internet, in addition to violations suffered by mothers of jovens negros assassinados (young murdered blacks).
The initial report – gathering data and stories – was presented to the OAS last April, when recommendations were also submitted the entity, among them, to appoint a representative to come to the country and verify the denounced violations.
“They have embraced our recommendation and designated Margarette Macaulay to dialogue with these women who are cited in the dossier, dialogue with these situations. We are having this hearing so that she hear these women. In fact, what we will present to her is a microcosm on this absurd violence that black women suffer every day,” said Nilza.
“In the beginning, he was wonderful. He was a very nice person who showed great affection and respect for me. Until the day of the first slap. And from the slap came the iron, came the rifle butt, I have a scar on my face, there came verbal, psychological humiliation, physical humiliation.” This is how Maria Aparecida da Silva Souto, pedagogue, 48, began to tell the routine of her first marriage was, the daily violence she endured silently for so long.
“And I tolerated everything in silence because people … Once I told and no one believed (me). They said “imagine (that)”, he was really mad. Better with him, worse without him,” said Maria. More than twenty years later, she still gets emotional when touching upon the subject, but believes things have changed, especially because of the Maria da Penha Law. “It took a woman almost dying for us to have this right to scream and talk.”
The Maria da Penha Law helped reduce violence against women, however, black women have only seen violence against them grow. The dossier shows that, in the deaths by aggression, black women are 64% of women murder victims in Brazil.
International Pacts against violence
The document further evaluates that although Brazil is a signatory to the International Pact against violence against women and has specific legislation, such as the Maria da Penha Law, in addition to policies, programs and networking services designed to confront this violence, “there is no mechanism aimed at tackling racism, its impact on the production of violence against black women, and institutional racism embedded in these actions.”
“In 2015, Brazil passed Law 13.104 on feminicide, which highlights the murders of women related to gender inequalities in the country. However, these laws and other instruments relating to violence against women neglect the inequities caused by racism and the complexity of violence faced by black women,” emphasizes the dossier.
One of the objectives is to show a public audience the stories of people who are behind the statistics. “What’s behind these numbers, what is the actual situation of women violated, raped, mothers, trans, lesbians, what’s behind it? And try, from there, more effective government action, I’m sure the government will be asked to give responses,” Nilza said.
Moreover, she believes the audience will have the role of bringing together women who are fighting against the various forms of violence suffered. “It’s a moment in which they will meet and realize they are not alone,” she added.
Source: Agência Brasil