In Pernambuco, homicide kills 40 times more black women
A study shows that, in the northeastern city of Recife, Afro-Brazilian women between 20 and 29 years are killed more than white women of the same age. In this specific age group, the difference appears even more intense in homicide rates: black women are murdered at a rate of about 40 times more than non-black women. The results are contained in a paper titled “Social Inequalities in mortality of adult women of Recife in the years 2001 to 2003”, developed by Sony researcher Santos, sanitarian Board of Health Surveillance from the Secretariat of Health of Recife.
by Talita Bedinelli
A study by a health officer of the Secretariat of Health of Recife indicates that black women in this city have 1.7 times more chance of dying than white women. This proportion is even higher when analyzed data from Recife women between the ages of 20 and 29: among black and brown, the risk is 2.4 times higher. In this specific age group, the difference appears more intense in homicide rates: black women are murdered about 40 times more than non-black women. The numbers are based on data from 2001 to 2003 from the Information System on Mortality in which 2,943 deaths of women in Recife were verified (1,924 of black and brown and white in 1,019).
The results are contained in a paper titled “Social Inequalities in mortality of adult women of Recife in the years 2001 to 2003”, developed by researcher Sony Santos, sanitarian of the Board of Health Surveillance of the Secretariat of Health of Recife. The figures, according to the researcher, are a reflection of social inequality. “Black women are more exposed to unfavorable situations in the habitation locations. They live in low-income areas and are more exposed to violence,” he says.
The leading causes of death among black women are diseases of the circulatory system (with a risk of death for black and brown women being twice that of white women). In second place appear neoplasms (with a difference of 1.2 times for black women). Third, are deaths from external causes, which represent the greatest inequality: the risk is 4.5 times higher for black women than for non-black women – this is the seventh leading cause of death among women of Recife that classify themselves as white.
Among the external causes, homicide rates are the most unequal: the risk of a woman of black or brown skin color dying by murder in the capital of Pernambuco is 9.7 times higher than that of white women. Between 20 and 29 years, the rate is 21.2 per 100,000 inhabitants (black) and 0.5 per 100,000 inhabitants (white). “The perpetrators are usually men with whom they maintain personal or family relationships, drug and alcohol users with low education levels. And black women are more exposed to this type of aggressor”, says Sony.
In this same age group, black women also die more from suicide (4.5 per 100,000 inhabitants, compared to 1.0 for white women) from maternal causes (6.8 vs. 1.6), traffic accidents (5.9 vs. 5.2) and AIDS (5.9 versus 5.2), among other factors.
“The study shows that black women have more difficulty accessing social assistance and basic health services,” said the health officer. According to her, this is illustrated, for example, in deaths from cancers. The only factor for which the death of black and brown are not more likely than white women is breast cancer, while cervical cancer maintains previous trends. “Cervical cancer is also contracted by HPV [Human Papilloma Virus], a sexually transmitted virus. It is the more preventable than breast cancer mainly because the Pap test is very cheap and easily performed in primary care,” he says.
The study was presented at the 1st Seminar on Municipal Health of the Black Population, held in Recife on the National Day of Mobilization for Pro-Health of the Black Population. The event was supported by the Program to Combat Institutional Racism of UNDP.
Journalist Cleidiana Ramos
Journalist Cleidiana Ramos divided a group into two to analyze reports on this subject. The first group analyzed this report from Pernambuco in which participants talked about the stereotypes placed on black women as explored in the report. One participant said that she had difficulty in her day-to-day work representing black figures in a state of happiness, because the stock photos available at the company where she works only associated them to the context of marginalization and misery.
“You have different realities. There is pressure to lose Afro-Brazilian identity. No wonder there is this female obsession in straightening the hair. When a black girl straightens her hair she is seeking another identity. What causes a person to deny their own identity all the time?”, said Ramos.